ISME, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, at the release of the CSO retail sales figures for July (28th August), acknowledges the improvement in value and sales this month. However, the Association calls on the Government to use Budget 2018 as an opportunity for the retail sector. The Association is concerned with the level of squeeze the retail sector faces with foreign exchange.
Retail sales figures show an increase by 11.9% in the month of July, with an annual increase of 2.1%. There was an increase of 8.9% in the value of retail sales in July, compared with June and there was an annual decrease of 0.3% when compared with July 2016.
ISME CEO Neil McDonnell said “As sterling continues to depreciate, the retail sector is particularly vulnerable to price squeeze, with consumers looking to online UK retailers for goods. This is a cause for real concern.”
“The retail sector plays a crucial role in the Irish economy, employing 285,000 people across the country.”
The main issues facing retailers are:
Very low margins, as evidenced by CSO figures.
Negative cross-border trade.
Excessive business costs such as insurance, rates, and development charges.
“As budget 2018 approaches, we call on Government to support the retail sector to help stimulate growth and employment. This can be done by reducing the VAT rate from 23% to 21% in October’s budget. Retailers also need greater help with establishing online trading platforms to compete with UK retailers.”