SOME 200 local convenience stores and shops are closing down every year while the survivors have seen their trade continue to slump, the head of a leading trade group said yesterday.
Speaking at his group's annual meeting, Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association boss Vincent Jennings said 400 stores had shut since 2010, and it made no difference whether stores were based in rural or urban areas.
Companies still in business have seen their revenues plummet by about 15pc since 2010, he said.
The problems in the sector were not all related to consumers not spending, Mr Jennings claimed.
"The Government, banks and wholesalers are heaping more pressure on the local shop.
"Many of our 4,200 outlets that are still trading are under severe financial pressure. Accountants and business advisers were meeting shop owners on a daily basis trying to work out business survival plans.
"Banks are withdrawing overdraft and loan facilities leaving some shop owners unable to weather the economic storm. Suppliers are increasing their wholesale prices, which the retailers cannot pass on to the hard-pressed customers," he claimed.
The association also claimed local authorities had long seen its members as a "soft touch" for revenue and called for the authorities to impose "realistic" rates and accompanying charges.