Retailers call for protection from online shopping

Representative group is also seeking a general cut in consumption taxes

 

The largest retail organisation in the Republic has called on the Government to protect businesses from an influx of “cheap, non-European imports” due to the rise of online shopping.

Retail Excellence, in its pre-budget submission, has called for “targeted solutions” for retailers in October’s budget, including additional online supports and “tax fairness measures”.

Retail Excellence is also seeking a general cut in consumption taxes, a reduction in the cost of doing business, increased funding to get retailers online, and increased infrastructural investment.

Traditionally, a booming economy would mean increased spend in retail outlets but consumer habits have changed and we must react accordingly

It also calls for additional Garda resources, town renewal funding, investment in the Home Renewal Scheme, the introduction of measures to increase competitiveness, and improved access to finance.

Retail Excellence chief executive Lorraine Higgins said the budget should contain “retail focused solutions”.

Photograph: iStock
Photograph: iStock

“Despite record numbers back at work, Irish retail remains vulnerable,” she said. “Traditionally, a booming economy would mean increased spend in retail outlets but consumer habits have changed and we must react accordingly.

We recommend online marketplaces are held jointly and severally liable for the collection of VAT and duties from distance sellers

“One of the single biggest threats to bricks and mortar stores in Ireland and, consequently the retail mix and vibrancy of our town centres, is the glut of cheap, non-European imports being bought by Irish consumers online.

“The prices of these goods and products are generally distorted as many distance sellers are not registered for VAT in Ireland and therefore do not apply same or duties to the product price which leaves our retailers at a competitive disadvantage. Consequentially, this is a tax fairness issue.

“We recommend online marketplaces are held jointly and severally liable for the collection of VAT and duties from distance sellers and that all online advertisers acquire an Irish VAT number.”

Export potential

Ms Higgins also called for increased funding under the Digital Trading Online Voucher scheme to enable more retailers get online, and called for support to help Irish retailers fulfil their export potential.

Specifically, she called for linguistic, logistic, network and market support in other jurisdictions akin to that which is afforded to manufacturing and processing companies.

“While Irish retail attracts less fanfare than foreign direct investment and export focused businesses it would be remiss of Government to ignore the far-reaching tentacles of the industry and its sectors which contribute to micro-economies in every village, town and city in this country,” she said.

Irish consumers also ranked in second place for trust in product safety

“Our Budget 2019 submission seeks to provide a clear set of solutions which we feel are critical to ensure an upward economic and employment trajectory for the betterment of all of Ireland, both urban and rural.”