Newsagents in call for State support to stop more closures
Irish newsagents have called for the creation of a dedicated ombudsman for micro retailers, as they face what's been described as an "epidemic" of store closures.
According to the latest data from the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN), between 2013 and 2016, 37 independent newsagents went out of business in Ireland, with 22 closing in 2016 alone.
Newsagent and NFRN's Irish president Peter Steemers said that without government support, he expects to see more closures in the year ahead.
NFRN represents almost 300 independent newsagents. In a meeting with Kevin Moran TD at the Dáil yesterday, newsagents voiced their concern over the higher rates, rising service charges and "predatory pricing" which has seen an acceleration of store closures over the past year. "There is a serious lack of government support for small businesses in rural areas," said Mr. Steemers.
"Local newsagents are at the end of their tether and they're just giving up - it's not like they're have anywhere else to go. Most of us are now working at a loss. It's set to get worse unless the government want to do something."
Irish newsagents have been struggling with rising service charges, which have eroded profits. One newsagent told the Irish Independent that it is paying weekly service charges of more than €100, while the store is losing €130 per week. Meanwhile, the proliferation of larger chains such as Tesco and Aldi have forced prices down in rural areas.
In response, the NRFN has drafted a manifesto asking for a dedicated ombudsman or regulator who can act as a champion for Ireland's smallest businesses, and save local newsagents from extinction.
"The majority of our members are involved in the family business, and many are located in rural communities without core transport services," said the manifesto.
"These members serve the entire community both young and old, and many are open long hours, seven days a week. They buy from local suppliers and keep money within the community. They support local events, schools and sports clubs."