Rogue traders’ activity causing havoc to smaller shops.
Revenue must intensify campaign to combat crime.
Margins still under pressure.
At the release of the CSO Retail Sales figures for April today (27th May), ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, welcomed the continued positive trend in retail sales and called on the new Government to refocus its efforts on the effect that the black economy is having on the SME retail sector. The Association demanded that much more emphasis be placed by Revenue on combating rogue traders.
Year on year retail sales figures showed an increase of 5.1% in volume and 2.5% in value. When the motor trade is excluded, sales were 3.6% higher in volume and 1.3% in value compared with 2015, clearly showing continuing pressure on margins as retailers reduce prices to stimulate demand.
Commenting on today’s retail figures, ISME CEO Mark Fielding said, “In addition to reduced margins, the Black Economy is ‘booming’ at the moment and the effects of smuggled cigarettes and other goods on small local stores is devastating. Ultimately, these shops will close leading to, not alone a loss of jobs but a loss of opportunity for local areas, devoid of convenience retail outlets.”
“The massive unfair advantage created by non-payment of excise and taxes within the black economy is creating havoc for compliant retailers. The Revenue Commissioners must put much more emphasis on the eradication of rogue traders who have a massive competitive advantage, which is causing job intensive SME retailers to suffer and in some cases, close.”
The main issues facing retailers are:
The surge in the Black Economy.
Very low margins, as evidenced by the CSO figures.
Excessive retail business costs, commercial rates, development charges and insurance.
Town centre revitalisation.
Social welfare anomalies and inflexibilities.
Insufficient bank credit availability for retail SMEs.
Sector specific training.
“The new Government must implement immediate policies to tackle the scourge of the Black Economy and the reduction of the cost base in order to secure the thousands of retail jobs in the economy”, concluded Fielding.