ISME calls for a review of prices of goods affected by abolition of Groceries Order.
Retail Strategy Group urgently required
ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprise Association, has demanded that the Government take more seriously the threat to one of the most significant sectors of the economy. The latest retail sales figures for December 2013, issued by the CSO today (28th January), once more demonstrate the need for coherent policies, aided by a Retail Strategy Group, to address the twin challenges of depressed consumer demand and rising costs.
The December retail sales figures show an increase of 0.5% in value in the month and 0.6% in volume, while sales values are up 1.1% in the year.
According to ISME CEO, Mark Fielding, ''Once more we have seen the consumer exert extreme caution in their spending over the Christmas Period, driven by continued economic uncertainty. While the 58,000 new jobs created should be expected to generate new spending, the fact of the matter is that the new wages are being used to pay down pre-exiisting debt, pay property tax and save for new taxes''.
''The 25% reduction in sales volume in the last six years without a corresponding reduction in costs means that many SME retailers are flatlining, with the anticipated upturn coming too late for some. To add insult to injury and speed up the demise of many small retailers the Government simply ignores the sector that employs 262,000.''
The Association called for the:
Establishment of the long awaited Retail Strategy Group as part of the Action Plan for Jobs.
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.
Government action on commercial rates, unrealistic rents and uncompetitive labour costs.
Increased bank credit availability for SMEs.
'' This Government seems to have 'washed its hands' of the retail sector and must be challenged. Ignorance is no excuse, as there are many excellent retailers who could advise, through a strategy group, before more shops go to the wall and jobs are lost'', concluded Fielding.