By Mark Davidson
Snowy conditions throughout December caused a significant dip in retail sales throughout Ireland, according to the latest data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
Retail sales excluding motor trades fell 3.3 per cent year-on-year, while the volume of trading was down 3.6 per cent.
Torlach Denihan, the Director of the industry representative body Retail Ireland, said that although the situation is currently difficult for Irish retailers, the decline in the market is slowing.
“Sales will probably fall for some time to come but there may be some grounds to hope that the retail sector will bottom out in 2011,” he explained.
“As over 50,000 retail jobs have been lost since the start of the recession, Retail Ireland calls for landlords to reverse all rent increases under the last rent review and the Joint Labour Committee to reverse its decision to increase pay rates.”
Problems in retail appear to exist north of the border too, with the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) bemoaning the high number of boarded up shops on high streets across the country.
Glyn Roberts, CEO of NIIRTA, attributes the problems to various factors, and suggests that this month’s VAT rise will not help.
“This VAT hike is the last thing our hard pressed retail sector needs, particularly after a month of bad weather, un-gritted pavements and severe weather,” he explained.
“It is a major mistake and one which will cost Northern Ireland’s small businesses and consumers dearly.
“The VAT hike to 20 per cent is a regressive move which will do absolutely nothing to restore consumer confidence and get them spending again in our shops.”