Due to distressed domestic trading conditions and the bleak medium-term economic outlook, Ireland’s leading retail industry bodies have formed the National Retail Industry Alliance which intends to effectively communicate its message to Government through cross-industry representation which includes:- the Association of Craft Butchers of Ireland, the Booksellers Association, the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association, the Independent Shoe Retailers Association, the Independent Stores Retail Alliance, the Irish Association of Health Stores, the Irish Hardware and Building Merchants Association, the Irish Pharmacy Union, Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, the National Off-Licence Association, Retail Excellence Ireland and the Retail Jewellers of Ireland.
The newly-formed NRAI points out that there’s an “urgent need for the government to focus on the needs of the domestic retail economy” following “four years of negative growth and further forecasted contraction of the domestic economy in 2012”.
It will lay out a series of ‘required actions’ including addressing the impacts of the VAT increase, the reintroduction of JLCs and Local Authority Rates to “underpin 255,000 jobs in the Irish retail industry”.
One of its first missions has been to draw the attention of the Government to the mis-timing of the annual Budget.
According to research commissioned by the NRAI, this badly affects consumer confidence and Christmas sales to the extent that the December Budget has shrunk retail sales by over seven per cent each year.
The survey was responded to by 208 retail companies operating 824 stores and employing 11,200 workers.
- 88 per cent of these retailers reported that the scheduling of the Budget in December is negatively impacting on consumer sentiment and Christmas trading volumes
- The majority, 51 per cent, report that the December Budget is causing a decline of over seven per cent in sales volumes
- A further 39 per cent say the December Budget is causing a decline of between four and seven per cent in sales volumes.
A NRIA spokesman commented, “The timing of the Budget in December is having a very negative effect on the retail industry. Equally damaging are the weeks of speculation preceding the Budget. Both are harming consumer sentiment during the Christmas trading period, the busiest time of the year for Irish retailers”.
“As a result, annual sales volumes are being reduced by over seven per cent. This is causing retail jobs losses, putting many retailers in a precarious position and others out of business. The retail industry employs over 200,000 in Ireland. It’s time that this Government listened to retailers’ recommendations in relation to the measures needed to help stop the massive jobs loss affecting the sector. Since 2008, over 44,000 retail jobs have been lost.
“We are calling on the Government to either announce all major budgetary changes in November or else to reschedule the Budget to February. Clear advance notice of major planned Budget changes, particularly those affecting consumer demand, should be given in October or early November. This would allow consumers adjust their spending habits in advance of December. Alternatively, by moving the Budget to February, consumer spending during the peak November-December period will no longer suffer from a post-Budget dip.”
According to NOffLA Chairperson Evelyn Jones, “For budget 2012 year we only had four working days in December to take in our Christmas stocks prior to the Budget. Because any excise duty increases apply from midnight on Budget Day we need to estimate our needs for the busiest month of the year and take those stocks in prior to the Budget in December in order to maximise our credit terms.
“This puts the retailer under a lot of pressure as it is impossible to accurately forecast December sales so early in the month as a lot of our customers have not even considered their needs at that point not to mention the price points that will prevail in the multiples.”
The NRAI has also called for a retail representative on the board of NAMA.