Business Irish

Friday 19 January 2018

Future of retail sector for SMEs 'bleak', warns ISME

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The future of the retail sector for SME traders remains “bleak” an industry group has warned after the value of sales November slipped.

ISME, which represents small and medium-sized businesses across the country, has called for a strategy group to be established in order to assist Irish retailers.

The organisation has predicted that there will be further job losses in the trade despite a gradual improvement in the wider economy.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said yesterday that the value of retail sales in November edged 0.3pc lower, but that the volume of sales in the month was unchanged. On an annual basis, the value of sales was 0.1pc higher by November, while the volume of retail sales was 1.7pc higher.

If motor sales are excluded, there was an increase of 0.5pc in the value of retail sales in November compared to October, and a 0.2pc decrease on an annual basis.

Mark Fielding, the head of ISME, said the organisation’s trends survey for the fourth quarter of 2013 showed “worrying results” in relation to future employment indicators for retailers, with a net 9pc stating they would employ fewer people in 2014.

He claimed the government was “idly standing by” while the retail sector suffered and called for a long-awaited retail strategy group to be established.

The CSO figures showed that volume sales of clothing, footwear and textiles rose 5.7pc in November compared to October, while department stores sales climbed 4.2pc and furniture and lighting by 2.7pc. The sectors recording the biggest declines were books, newspapers and stationery, down 3.2pc, motor vehicles, down 2.5pc, and food, beverage and tobacco, down 1.8pc.

“Although consumer sentiment picked up in the most recent official survey, households are still very nervous about the economic climate and are more willing to save than spend until there is greater clarity about the outlook going forward,” according to Alan McQuaid, an economist at Merrion Stockbrokers.

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