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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 2 September, 2014

Retail industry “still experiencing difficulties”

New CSO figures show that people spent less money in supermarkets and petrol stations last month.

Image: Shopping via Shutterstock

THE RETAIL INDUSTRY in Ireland is still experiencing difficulties, two retail groups have said today.

One group is now calling on the Government to address the high costs to retailers, such as upward-only rents.

Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, said that the retail industry “is still experiencing some difficulty” after CSO figures showed that the value of sales, excluding motor trades and bars, fell by 1.7 per cent  in September compared with the same month last year.

The figures show that the overall retail sales volume increased by 0.5 per cent in September 2013 but there was a decrease in the annual figure of 0.3 per cent.

Retail Ireland Director Stephen Lynam noted that the numbers show a fall in sales for supermarkets, department stores, pharmacies, furniture stores, petrol stations and electrical outlets.

But when it came to increases, those that experienced more sales were book shops, clothing stores, specialist food stores and hardware shops.

“Undoubtedly, speculation about the impact of the Budget led to people spending less in September,” suggested Lynam.

We hope that with the Budget now out of the way, and most pay packets left relatively unchanged, growth in consumer spending will resume.

He said that there were signs of recovery over the summer, and “there remains a renewed sense of optimism amongst retailers that the market will start to grow again”.

But with total sales down by over a quarter since the end of the boom, today’s figures “remind us how far we need to go before the retail sector is returned to health”, said Lynam.

Meanwhile, ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association has repeated its demand for the Government to address the risks to the retail sector and to implement immediate policies to secure the 250,000 jobs in the industry.

ISME Chief Executive, Mark Fielding, said that today’s figures, “confirm, once again, the disastrous situation in which the majority of small and medium retailers find themselves”.

He called on the government to address the high costs to retailers, including upward-only rents.

“What is required is a Retail Strategy Group to advise on a clear road map, which will provide confidence to both consumers and small business, allowing for increased spending and investment,” said Fielding.

Read: People spent less on groceries in run-up to Budget announcement>

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