Political ignorance of e-commerce challenges slowing progress.
Retail training almost non-existent across educational system.
Thousands of SME retail jobs under threat.
Billions being lost to economy through foreign on-line sales.
At the release of the CSO Retail Sales figures for January today (29th February), ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, has once more warned the Government that their lack of coherent policies on retail is leading to competition difficulties for SME retailers against the dominance of large foreign on-line stores in the sector. The Association called on the new administration to re-double its efforts in retail training supports and the adoption of retail e-commerce solutions, including an increase in scope of the Online Trading Voucher scheme.
According to ISME CEO, Mark Fielding, “Much of the retail industry is moving on-line and the bulk of sales are now imported from international websites. The new government must realise that the sector comprises of every shop and store in every street, village and town and is not just a small number of over-dominant department stores, grocery multiples and websites serviced from outside the country.”
“Without clear and properly targeted policy initiatives we will see many more small retail outlets close, leaving the ‘labour-light’ operating model to ‘service’ the customer, with its negative impact on employment, innovation, standard of service and choice for the consumer.”
“Retail is a changing industry with customers often never setting foot in a shop to make purchases. Government must assist retailers to adapt to this changing environment and stop making the situation more difficult by long-fingering broadband roll-out and ignoring the lack of adequate and appropriate training in the sector.”
The Association called for:
An increase to five thousand retail on-line vouchers for all SMEs.
An increase in retail training places.
A fast-tracking of broadband to all areas.
Government action on commercial rates, unrealistic rents and uncompetitive labour costs.
Bank credit availability for SMEs.
“Retail is, by its nature, one of the most competitive sectors, however consumer spending habits have changed with many preferring to source bargains from multi-national e-tailers instead of shopping locally. Without adequate broadband and training many of the 270,000 jobs in front-line retailing, warehousing, transport and logistics are at risk”, concluded Fielding.