The Association welcomes the long-awaited ‘Retail Consultation Forum’.
High costs still ‘enemy number one’.
ISME calls for a review of prices of goods affected by abolition of Groceries Order.
At the release of the CSO Retail figures for January, ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, has called on the Government to immediately establish the Retail Consultation Forum announced in the Action Plan for Jobs 2014. The Association warned that thousands of jobs remain at risk in the largest business sector, despite the gradual improvement in the economy.
The January retail sales figures show an increase of 1.8% in value in the month and 2.3% in volume, while sales values are up 6.9% and volume up 8.9% in the year. When Motor trades are excluded there was a monthly decrease of 0.3% in value and 1% in volume, with an annual increase of 0.9% in value and 2.7% in volume.
Commenting on today’s figures ISME CEO, Mark Fielding said, “Not before its time, the Government has taken the Association’s advice and has included the establishment of a Retail Consultation Forum to provide on-going consultation with the retail sector on relevant issues in the Action Plan for Jobs 2014. The disappointment is that it has taken over three years to get them to acknowledge the problems and take action”.
The Forum must immediately set out its priorities for the sector that has endured a torrid time over the past six years. The main issues are:
Excessive retail business costs.
Surge in Shadow Economy.
Introduction of a Code of Practice, with an ombudsman for the sector.
Review of the effect of the abolition of the Groceries Order on prices.
Commercial rates, development contributions, unrealistic rents and uncompetitive labour costs.
Town centre revitalization.
Social welfare anomalies and inflexibilities.
Lack of bank credit availability for retail SMEs.
Sector specific training.
In conclusion Fielding stated, “Retailers have invested heavily in their businesses and in response to the downturn, have cut their prices even though their sales volume has shrunk by almost 25%. At the same time the cost to the business has not fallen to the same extent with rents, rates, local charges, waste and even pay rates remaining high. Many of these costs are determined and driven by Government and must now be reduced to ensure a sustainable retail sector”.