Reacting to the latest retail sales figures for November 2013, issued by the CSO today (8th January), ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprise Association, called for the establishment of a Retail Strategy Group to assist Irish retailers continuing to struggle with high overheads and low consumer demand. The Association predicted that further jobs will be lost in the sector, despite the general but gradual improvement in the overall economy.
The November retail sales figures show a decrease of 0.3% in value in the month but no change in sales volume, however, sales values are up 0.1% in the year.
According to ISME CEO, Mark Fielding, “The ISME trends survey for Q4 2013 showed worrying results in relation to future employment indicators for retailers, with a net 9% stating that they would employ less in 2014. This pessimistic outlook is in contrast to the jobs expectation of the other sectors, where a net 18% expect to employ more. It is now more imperative than ever that the Government pays attention to these warning signs and works with retailers to avoid a situation where we have further job losses”.
“The final quarter of 2013 also shows a decline in SME retail sales and projected sales, with 39% showing a reduction in current sales and 35% expecting further reductions. This substantial drop in consumer spending combined with the incessant increase in business costs is crippling the SME retail sector and, while the sector is being annihilated, the Government stands idly by.”
The Association called for the:
Immediate establishment of the long awaited Retail Strategy Group.
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.
“Delays in the introduction of the Code of Practice are leading to SME producers being screwed by large multiples; the abolition of the Groceries Order means that the consumer is now paying more, rather than less for product in the multiples; all as a result of a total lack of any coherent Government policy for the sector. The Government must take the threat to one of the most significant contributors to the economy more seriously. We need coherent policies and the immediate formation of a Retail Strategy Group to address the risks to the sector,” concluded Fielding.