In doing so, the Retail Grocery Dairy & Allied Trades Association has highlighted the concerns of community shop-owners regarding the Structural Separation aspect of the Bill and the difficulties it poses for their businesses.
“In particular, the Bill has created significant concern and unease among shop-owners who believe that it has the real potential to distort the market for alcohol sales towards large-format retailers who either specialise in the sale of alcohol products or who’re involved in a mixed trade but on a larger scale,” stated RGDATA Director General Tara Buckley, “Such stores are the antithesis of independent stores where the owner of the shop is personally and directly involved in the operation and management of the store and who, as a stakeholder in the local community, has a strong desire to maintain a responsible attitude to the sale of alcohol.
“RGDATA believes that many of the policy objectives underpinning the Bill can be achieved without creating the unintended consequences which the current measure will produce,” she added.
One County Kildare local community shop owner explained, “There’s no need to introduce structural separation in my shop. We all agree with minimising risks but it needs a commonsense approach in relation to pricing. The multiples are driving the lower cost sales so we shouldn’t be penalised for that”.
Another local community shop owner in Drogheda said that, “Customers will feel uneasy going into another part of the shop – it just doesn’t make sense”.
And in Wicklow, a local village shop commented, “This is the biggest issue for small local shops; it will put me out of business if I have to invest in a separate area for alcohol”.
Tara Buckley concluded, “RGDATA is urging all retailers to make their concerns about Structural Separation known to their local TDs. We have a minority government so every vote counts in the new Dail and Seanad. Ask your TD to raise their voice against Structural Separation during the Committee Stage debates. It will have significant security, health & safety and store layout impacts for local community stores who are responsible retailers of alcohol.”
However Gary O’Donovan, Chairman of the National Off-Licence Association believes that the cost of compliance with the new proposals on structural separation will not be as expensive as some small family retailers think.