Groups including Retail Ireland, NFRN Ireland and Retail Excellence Ireland have urged the Government to make careful considerations with regards to retailers in the Budget, citing the need to re-instil confidence in the industry.
In its pre-Budget submission, Retail Ireland detailed the results of its April 2013 survey where half of the respondents reported that their business was either poor or very poor currently and a third (33%) expected it to be poor or very poor in three months time. Just 13% indicated that their business would be good in three months time.
The IBEC Group urged "a freeze on any Government-controlled costs currently borne by retailers, including labour costs" to help retailers avoid further job losses.
It asked the Government to tackle the black market on the back of findings in a report it provided to the Department of Finance. The report, written by Grant Thornton, shows that illicit trade is costing the economy at least €583 million per annum in the areas of fuel and tobacco laundering, digital piracy and counterfeit pharmaceuticals.
Meanwhile, Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) proposed it its submission that the Government set up a Domestic Economy Stimulus Group to address the concerns of retailers and to promote an environment that will help secure businesses and jobs. It said said that this group could "motivate work seekers to apply for seasonal temporary retail positions, reduce crime and black economy activity, reduce the cost base and reward labour intensive retail business." REI also called for the appointment of a Junior Minister for Retail to represent the 250,000 employees of the retail industry.
Other submissions made by REI for the Budget included reviewing the VAT rate to alleviate financial strain on businesses, adopting a flexible social welfare system and reviewing sick pay costs, as well as including a Retail Representative on the board of NAMA "to assist vulnerable tenants."
The National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) urged the continuation of the 9% VAT rate to "continue to support the independent retail sector and consumers." The NFRN's submission to the Government noted that commercial rates form a significant burden on retailers, with the last decade having seen rates increase by 47% and which now accounting for 27% of local authority revenues. "At a time when many retailers are struggling, this burden is threatening the existence of the shops and the employment they create," it said.
The group urged the introduction of a system of rate relief similar to that introduced by Northern Ireland Finance Minister Sammy Wilson. Concerns were also raised about the introduction of plain packaging on cigarettes, as the NFRN believes it will "fail to achieve its objective of reducing smoking," instead "handing market share to smugglers and counterfeiters."
© 2013 - Checkout Magazine by Stephen Wynne-Jones