The Irish Small & Medium Enterprise Association (ISME) is calling on the Government to refocus its efforts on supporting the SME retail sector, by tackling its underlying costs base and the black economy, which it says is killing smaller stores.
ISME demands that more work be done by Revenue to combat ‘rogue traders’, rather than increase pressure on compliant retailers, already working hard to survive despite falling margins.
According to the latest CSO findings, released last week, year-on-year retail sales have increased by 7.8% in volume and 4% in value when motor sales are excluded, which the ISME says shows a continued trend towards heavy discounting to drive sales, creating a downward pressure on margins.
Commenting on the figures, ISME chief executive Mark Fielding said, “In addition to reduced margins, the Black Economy is ‘booming’ at the moment and the effects of smuggled cigarettes and other goods on local stores is devastating.
“Ultimately, these stores will close, leading to, not alone a loss of jobs but a loss of opportunity for local areas, devoid of convenience retail outlets.”
Meanwhile, Ibec group Retail Ireland says the latest CSO figures show some retail recovery and improved customer confidence, but that there is still a long way to go.
Thomas Burke, Retail Ireland director, commented, “The retail recovery is strengthening. Consumers are feeling more certain about their personal finances, and this is translating into increased spending in shops.”
However, he also warned that overall retail sales remain 17% below pre-recession peak levels, and that there is still a long way to go before achieving those figures again.
© 2015 - Checkout Magazine by Jenny Whelan