‘Retail Consultation Forum’ must be established immediately.
Retail sector cannot wait for ‘civil service paced’ intervention.
Delays cost Jobs.
ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, in reaction to the Retail Sales figures released by the CSO today (28th March), expressed concern at the tardiness in setting up the Retail Consultation Forum, promised in the Action Plan for Jobs 2014. The Association demanded that the Forum be established immediately, as every day’s delay postponed recovery.
The February retail sales figures show a decrease of -1.5% in volume in the month and -1.9% in value. There has been an increase of 5% in volume and 2.9% in value in the year. When motor sales are excluded sales volume was down -0.4% and sales value was down -0.5% in the month.
Mark Fielding, ISME CEO, commented, “Retailers were the first to be hit by the effects of the economic crash and are last to experience any benefits of the slight up-turn. Consumer spending is increasing but slowly and high business costs make profitability a difficult aspiration for many. The retail sector is one of the most labour intensive industries, so Government must act quickly in order to protect jobs.”
“It took us four years to get the Government to see the need for a Retail Consultation Forum to provide structured engagement on current retail issues. We cannot afford to move at civil service pace; the Forum needs to begin its work immediately to identify solutions to the problems faced by the surviving retailers and to devise and implement appropriate measures.”
The Association called for the:
Immediate establishment of the Retail Consultation Forum as promised in the Action Plan for Jobs 2014.
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.
Fielding concluded, “It is high time that the Government took more seriously the plight of some of the most significant contributors to the economy. Small and medium, owner-managed, retailers and wholesalers must be prioritised, protected and promoted in the fight to save and create jobs.”