Friday 17 November 2017

Budget 'kite flying' puts off cash-strapped consumers

Colm Kelpie:

BUDGET 'kite flying' by government ministers is leading cash-strapped shoppers to rein in spending, retail bosses have warned.

In a stinging criticism, Retail Excellence accused the Government of failing to communicate with the public in a "professional and credible manner".

The country's largest retail industry body said ministers should only comment when decisions are made, claiming speculation about cuts had sparked fear among consumers.

"As we enter pre-Budget season, we call on the Government to implement a clear and concise communications strategy for Budget 2013," Retail Excellence chief David Fitzsimons said.

"In the latest Consumer Sentiment Index, consumer sentiment fell to 60.2 in September -- its weakest level since February.

"This sharp deterioration is no surprise considering the significant amount of Budget speculation leading to consumer fear and reduced spending."

The body said there were occasions where ministers were contradicting each other and highlighted in particular the uncertainty surrounding the proposed property tax.

Action

It said every announcement being made by Government was undermining spending in the domestic economy.

In its pre-Budget submission, the industry body that has more than 1,000 members said consumer confidence and spending was down. It warned that the country would see more shops close unless action was taken to prop up the sector.

Retail Excellence called for:

• A junior minister for retail to bring concerns of the industry to Cabinet level.

• Reduce the current standard 23pc VAT rate to kick-start spending.

• Review services provided by local authorities to businesses.

• Don't force the cost of sick pay on to small businesses.

• A retail representative to be appointed to the NAMA board.

• Cuts rather than tax increases in the Budget.

The body also called for the date of the Budget to be changed to ensure that it does not impact on the Christmas shopping period, and traditionally the busiest time of the year for shops.

"The 11,000 store members of Retail Excellence Ireland and the 250,000 people employed in the Irish Retail Industry require immediate assistance," the body said.

Irish Independent

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