Retail Lobby Wants Better Customs Inspections

30 Jan 2018 | 04.15 pm

Retail Lobby Wants Better Customs Inspections

Clothing and jewellery retailers hit by online competition

30 Jan 2018 | 04.15 pm

Retail sales in the last quarter of 2017 were adversely affected by cheap imports from outside the EU, and overall the three months were “challenging”, according to a Retail Excellence report prepared by Grant Thornton.

The organisation’s chief executive David Fitzsimons said: “Q4 2017 proved a challenging quarter with a very poor October, probably as a result of spending being postponed until Black Friday. While November traded up 3.5% as a result of Black Friday, margin was certainly lost.

“Jewellery endured a very poor quarter due to the migration of demand to international suppliers, either online or as a result of consumers buying abroad on leisure trips. The less than fulsome inspection of packages in sorting offices and a lack of stringent customs controls is leading to significant erosion of spending at home and lost taxes to the state.”

Deputy chief executive  Lorraine Higgins (pictured) added: “It is clear that a degree of vulnerability continues to exist. While figures might be up marginally this has occurred at the expense of intensive marketing campaigns undertaken by retailers and consequently reduced margins.

Download Q4 2017 Analysis of Retail Outcomes by Sector

“Overall, the Irish retail recovery is marginal. No longer can it be expected in Budgets that increasing consumer spend will take care of retail. The industry continues to be threatened by the influx of cheap imports coming from non-EU websites and the failure to intercept every parcel coming in to Ireland from outside the EU and the consequent application of customs and VAT on such goods is a missed opportunity for the Exchequer. Retail-focused policies and legislation must be implemented to curtail this. Budget 2019 provides an opportunity.”

Grant Thornton partner Damien Gleeson  said that Irish retailers have seen a dip in sales in the areas of fashion, footwear, lingerie and childrenswear.  “Increasingly, consumers are turning to online shopping outside of Ireland with convenience and perceived value being the primary contributing factors,” he stated.

“This category of retailer is now operating in a  global market. Online shopping is a game changer and I would expect further erosion in the area as new opportunities to shop online arise. With the growth in the construction and building sectors consumers have invested in their homes, with increases in the sales of furniture and flooring and home appliances as well as garden centres seeing a boost in sales of 4.5%.”


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