ISME has warned the Government that their lack of coherent policies on retail is leading to competition difficulties for SME retailers against the dominance of large foreign on-line stores in the sector.
The business group was responding to the CSO Retail Sales figures for January showing that retail sales volume increased by 4.1% from December to January, while year-on-year the figure was 10.3% higher. The largest monthly sales increases were seen in motor trades (+9.1%) and electrical goods (+6%), while other retail sales (-3%) and furniture & lighting (-1.8%) had the largest drop-off.
The Association called on the new administration to re-double its efforts in retail training supports and the adoption of retail e-commerce solutions, including an increase in scope of the Online Trading Voucher scheme.
According to ISME CEO, Mark Fielding, “Much of the retail industry is moving on-line and the bulk of sales are now imported from international websites. The new government must realise that the sector comprises of every shop and store in every street, village and town and is not just a small number of over-dominant department stores, grocery multiples and websites serviced from outside the country.”
“Without clear and properly targeted policy initiatives we will see many more small retail outlets close, leaving the ‘labour-light’ operating model to ‘service’ the customer, with its negative impact on employment, innovation, standard of service and choice for the consumer.”
“Retail is a changing industry with customers often never setting foot in a shop to make purchases. Government must assist retailers to adapt to this changing environment and stop making the situation more difficult by long-fingering broadband roll-out and ignoring the lack of adequate and appropriate training in the sector.”
“Retail is, by its nature, one of the most competitive sectors, however consumer spending habits have changed with many preferring to source bargains from multi-national e-tailers instead of shopping locally. Without adequate broadband and training many of the 270,000 jobs in front-line retailing, warehousing, transport and logistics are at risk”, concluded Fielding.