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Ireland: A £20 billion retail market

Published: 2000

Why This Report?

Many large consumer product manufacturers are successful because they are market-driven and customer-led. They invest heavily to understand the changing marketplace and the needs and aspirations of their customers. Large retailers also invest substantially in market and consumer research in order to respond to the requirements of existing and new customers.

Small and medium size manufacturers don't have the same research resources as the big players and, as a result, may find it difficult to acquire the basic facts and figures on what is happening in the Irish market.

For this reason, InterTradeIreland, with the support of Enterprise Ireland, the Industrial Development Board for Northern Ireland, and LEDU, the Small Business Agency for Northern
Ireland, has published a series of reports to give small and medium enterprises a comprehensive overview of the consumer markets in the Republic and Northern Ireland. The reports cover markets of significant opportunity in giftware and jewellery, clothing and footwear, consumer and contract furniture, housewares and kitchen appliances.

This report provides an overview of the consumer market in Ireland, with a specific focus on the retail sector, and gives a context and perspective for the individual reports. Together, they will provide a better understanding of the consumer marketplace in Ireland, so that manufacturers can identify opportunities and grow their business, especially by possessing the key information necessary to adopting an all-Ireland marketing approach. The reports are intended as a primary research resource and as a starting point for manufacturers to develop more detailed research and market intelligence that is relevant to their individual requirements.

The report covers three broad areas:

  • Economic trends that impact on consumer purchasing patterns and behaviour
  • The changing retail marketplace
  • Strategic advice for manufacturers seeking to grow their sales in Ireland.

It highlights opportunities. Much of the data confirms a strong and growing consumer demand for the foreseeable future, especially in the Republic due to the increase in the high spending 20+ age groups. There are always new opportunities for those who spot them and retail channels can be used imaginatively to reach new customers.

Statistics and data for the Republic and Northern Ireland differ significantly in coverage, definitions, methodology, time periods covered and currency. Some forecasts for the Republic may be underestimated due to the higher than anticipated economic and population growth of the late 1990s which is continuing into the current decade.

Additional information to what is in this report is available from government statistics, trade publications, marketing industry directories, or specialist firms such as A C Nielsen. Readers who seek more detailed information on a topic should consult their development agency library, contact the referenced sources directly or visit their websites where further free data can be found.

Topline Summary

Ireland is a market of 5.5 million people, that is set to increase to 5.8 million by 2006.

It comprises 2.3 million wage earners

It has average GDP per capita at purchasing power parity of over IR£18,000 / Stg£14,250 per year, which is higher than Sweden or Finland [1]

The total retail market is worth in excess of IR£20 / Stg£15 billion a year

The market is serviced by sophisticated and demanding international retail chains, as well as by an increasingly sophisticated independent retail sector, which gives consumers a greater choice than ever before.

Manufacturers in Ireland can gain from this sizeable local market, provided they do their homework in advance, both in developing products that the market wants, and identifying the appropriate sales channels to use.

This report will help SMEs better understand

  • The growth of the market,
  • The size and scale of the opportunity,
  • The changing retail structures,
  • The relocation of buying power out of Ireland.

And the importance of being either a high volume, low cost producer, selling to
international chains, or a smaller scale niche producer, selling to local chains or
specialist retailers.

[1] OECD, GDP per capita, 1998, September 2000


Ireland A £20 Billion retail market

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