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M. Deegan's on South Anne Street, just off Grafton Street, in Dublin's city centre. via Flickr/Creative Commons
Convenience Stores

Are we losing our newsagents and corner shops?

Penny sweets, magazines and 99s – is the magical stuff of the corner shop a thing of the past?

THE IRISH NEWSAGENT is a thing of beauty – foreign magazines, hard-boiled or penny sweets and the morning paper can be bought alongside a variety of cheap toys, groceries and random household items.

But the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA) of Ireland has warned that the recession has taken its toll on the corner shops and 400 have closed down in the past two years.

Average trading has fallen by about 15 per cent as banks and wholesalers are “heaping more pressure on the local shop”, says CSNA chief executive Vincent Jennings.

The withdrawal of banking overdraft and loan facilities has left some shop owners unable to weather the economic storm, added Jennings. Suppliers have also increased their wholesale prices but retailers cannot pass this on to “hard-pressed customers”.

Just as many shops have closed in urban areas as in more rural regions.

At the CSNA annual general meeting yesterday, Jennings said that 4,200 outlets across the country were still trading under “severe financial pressure”. Accountants and business advisers are meeting shop owners on a daily basis to work out business survival plans, he added.

Our customers value the convenience of shopping in well appointed stores open at times and in locations that suit them but the actions of the government, banks and wholesalers make it very hard for our members to survive without compromising on the value and service the shopper wants.

Certain government policies, including “excessive excises and VAT hikes”, are playing a major role in the difficulties, according to the association. The issue of tobacco prices was also highlighted at the meeting with Jennings claiming that increased taxes were “playing into the hands of smugglers”.

He called for a change in law to allow retailers to determine the price of tobacco products they sold in-store, as well an abolition of the current recruitment embargo so more staff could be involved in the fight against illegal tobacco and fuel.

Yesterday: Over five million cigarettes seized at Dublin Port>

Read: Grocery sales fall by 0.2 per cent>

More: Going down: Retail sales fall in April>

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