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St Patrick's weekend sales up on last year but retailers remain pessimistic

In its latest business sentiment survey, Retail Ireland has conveyed a pessimistic outlook among retailers for the months ahead.

Image: Jan Koller/Press Association Images

RETAILERS IN IRELAND continue to remain pessimistic about the future despite indications that sales over St Patrick’s weekend were up on last year.

Commenting on the results of its latest business sentiment survey Retail Ireland, a subsidiary of IBEC, said that retailers remain pessimistic about the current economic environment.

Among the findings were that 85 per cent of retailers felt the overall business environment was poor or very poor and early 80 per cent said they expected the environment to be poor or very poor in three months time.

Figures expected to be released this Thursday will show whether or not the economy grew in the last three months of 2011.

Retail Ireland’s survey also showed that retailers who operate wholly in the domestic economy are more pessimistic than other sectors, according to chair Frank Gleeson.

However, he added: “That said, a straw poll of retailers suggest sales over the long weekend were up on the same weekend last year. Sales at DIY and gardening centres improved significantly as we expected.”

Gleeson went on to outline changes being proposed by IBEC to boost retail activity in Ireland including a new social welfare smart card to ensure child benefit payments are spent in the domestic economy, stamp duty and property tax incentives, and tax incentives to encourage additional home renovation.

“In 2012 efforts must focus on restoring more normal levels of activity in the domestic economy. Retail sales are down 30% since the start of the recession.

“Unaffordable rents, high local authority charges, uncompetitive utility costs and the VAT increase are having a devastating impact. Solutions to all these problems can be found and we are urging the Government to tackle them immediately,” Gleeson added.

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Hugh O'Connell

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