The economy continues to grow and is edging closer to full employment. Consumer confidence is generally positive having had a slight dip in February 2018. Commentators suggest further economic growth in 2018 (ESRI forecasts +4.8%) and while there has been no dramatic increase in consumer spending power, general concerns in households seem to have eased, helping consumers loosen purse strings. Poor weather conditions in Q1 2018 have undoubtedly impacted retailers and in particular fashion retailers. In spite of this, the volume of core retail sales (i.e. excluding motor trades) were 6.3% higher at the end of February compared to 12 months previous, while in value terms they were 3.8% higher.