In reaction to the latest Retail Sales figures from the CSO, ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, has repeated its call on Government to introduce a Retail Strategy Group, consisting of all relevant players, to advise Government on policies to assist the sector.
The Association outlined that thousands of jobs were at risk due to the depressed state of consumer demand, driven by continued economic uncertainty.
The retail figures for March were disappointing, showing an annual reduction of 3.6%, as consumers continue to save and reduce their debt in the fear of further austerity measures and job losses, while the Government fails to show economic leadership.
Commenting, ISME Chief Executive, Mark Fielding stated, “the tsunami of negative influences on the retail trade continues, with increases in bank charges and reduction in bank lending, increases in local charges with a reduction in local services, while Government empty announcements mirror the empty shops. It is as if this administration has a death-wish for Retail and the 240,000 people depending on the sector for their livelihood.
“There is no doubt that without a strategic intervention, up to 40,000 jobs will be lost in the sector, as confirmed by the most recent ISME Business Trends Survey, where a Net 5% of retail SMEs expected to reduce employment in the next 12 months.
“The time for talking and examining is long gone. Small and medium, owner managed, retailers and wholesalers must be protected, promoted and prioritised in the fight to save their 240,000 jobs. The immediate introducing of the long awaited Retail Strategy Group would show some real action.”