Retailers in Wales and Northern Ireland are ready to work alongside the new assembly governments in these two countries to help their respective economies grow, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
New policies are sure to materialise following last week’s elections, and retailers would like to play their part in helping shape business-friendly plans that can aid economic development.
BRC Director General Stephen Robertson said that retail is one of the few sectors in the UK that has been able to grow during the economic downturn, and data from the recent BRC-Bond Pearce Retail Employment Monitor shows that there were 3,400 extra retail jobs in the first quarter of 2011 compared to the same period one year before.
“Retail generates ten per cent of Wales’ GDP compared with seven per cent for the UK as a whole, meaning it is of even greater importance to the Welsh economy,” he explained.
“As the largest private sector employer, retail holds the key to getting people into work. A third of retail staff are under 25. The sector is providing work for some of the young people facing the biggest challenges in the current climate.”
Robertson also suggested that retail is vitally important to Northern Ireland’s economy and criticised proposals to establish a large retailer levy in the country, dubbing such plans “contradictory” to the shared goal of creating jobs and thriving town centres.
“Successful retailers, creating thousands of jobs and anchoring healthy high streets, deserve to be valued rather than penalised in this way,” he asserted.
The BRC will be working with governments in both Wales and Northern Ireland in the months ahead to ensure retailers’ views are made clear ahead of any forthcoming policy decisions.