Modest retail growth highlights issue of legacy costs

Friday, 27 February 2015
Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, said today's CSO statistics for January show modest growth in sales of 0.8%, compared with last year (excluding sales of cars and sales in bars), and volume rising by 5%. However, when comparing January's sales with December, there was a 0.3% drop in total value and a 0.1% drop in volume. Many retailers continue to be hampered by legacy costs, such as unsustainably high rents and excessive local authority commercial rates. More needs to be done help retailers grow and create jobs.

Director of Retail Ireland Thomas Burke said: “Given the busy trading period in the run up to Christmas and the post-holiday sales, retailers sometimes experience lower sales in January which accounts for the slight dip. What the figures highlight, however, is the differences across sectors of the industry. Furniture, lighting and homeware sales soared with a 14% jump in year-on-year values, electrical stores sales are up by 6% and department stores saw growth of 3%. However, service stations experienced a drop of 14.3%, book shops recorded a 4.2% fall and pharmacies returned a 3.6% drop.

"Retailers continue to face challenges despite improvements in the economy and consumer confidence.
We must address the issues of unsustainably high rents and disproportionate local authority commercial rates if we are to achieve balanced regional growth. More also needs to be done to make town and city centres better places to visit and shop."