Budget 2019 must protect retail competitiveness

Thursday, 23 August 2018
Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the sector, today launched its Budget 2019 submission in which it called on Government to introduce measures to address the continued erosion of the retail sectors’ competitive position, while providing additional supports to help address the emerging labour shortage in the sector.

Director of Retail Ireland, Thomas Burke, said: “The Irish retail sector has returned to growth in recent months and the persistent gap between sales value and sales volume growth has begun to close. Nevertheless, Irish retailers are coming under increasing pressure from rising input costs such as labour, insurance, rates and utilities. Such costs have now become a survival and competitiveness issue for many Irish retailers. The State has played a significant role in driving input costs upwards. Therefore, they must ensure that no additional costs or tax burdens are placed on the Irish retail sector in Budget 2019.”

In addition, Retail Ireland is calling on the Government to address the emerging labour shortage in the sector arising from the drive towards full employment in the State, and the pressure this is placing on labour costs and wages in the sector.

Mr. Burke said: “One way of addressing the current tightening in the retail labour market is through the provision of additional supports to the sector in the areas of further education and training. Only by upskilling and developing those entering the sector will the industry be able to retain key talent and access the required skillsets in the future as the sector continues to modernise and embrace the opportunities presented by the online world.

“At present State funding for in work training supports are limited, but we believe Government must take the opportunity presented in Budget 2019 to further invest in programmes such as Skillnets and the emerging modern apprenticeships. Additional support and resources must be provided to industry-led consortiums at the assessment and development stages of new apprenticeships, to improve delivery times and meet stated Government targets. The success of such in work training programmes will be vital in preventing future labour shortages in a sector that views its people as its biggest asset.”

Retail Ireland has been working in recent months with the Apprenticeship Council to develop an Apprenticeship in Retail Supervision which will commence in 2019.

Retail Ireland priorities for Budget 2019 include:
    Additional support and resources for industry-led consortiums at the assessment and development stages of new apprenticeships.
      Protect competitiveness by ensuring that Budget 2019 does not impose additional costs on retail businesses.
      Put in place a funding stream to support retailers adapt their businesses to the worst impacts of Brexit.
      Address the infrastructure deficit in Ireland by accelerating plans within Project Ireland 2040.
      Introduce a scheme based on the current R&D tax credit system which would allow retailers to offset the cost of web developments against their VAT costs.
        Retain the current 9% VAT rate for service-based retailers such as the hairdressing, news and food service retail categories.