Budget 2022 must secure retail recovery - Retail Ireland
Retail Ireland, the Ibec group the represents the retail sector, today set out its key Budget 2022 priorities, which call for a range of measures to relaunch the economic and social life of our town and city centres. The group also highlighted major recruitment problems, which are causing serious difficulties to business trying to overcome Covid and Brexit disruption.
Retail Ireland Director Arnold Dillon said: “While overall the sector is bouncing back, major challenges remain. Key retail districts remain quiet due to an absence of office workers and tourists. At the same time, businesses trying to recover are finding it difficult to recruit staff. Bedding down the recovery and ensuring a smooth Christmas trading period must be a key government priority.”
The Retail Ireland Budget 2022 submission calls for the following measures:
• Secure the Covid recovery: The budget should ensure that the operation of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and debt warehousing scheme puts retail businesses on sustainable growth path. Arbitration for rent disputes must be incentivised.
• Revive our post-pandemic towns and cities: A concerted efforted, involving all of government, will be needed to relaunch and reinvigorate our urban centres post Covid. Government must launch an ambitious Experience Economy strategy and focus on fostering attractive and vibrant urban centres through policies such as the Town Centre First initiative. A concerted effort is also needed to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.
• Address labour supply challenge: Emerging acute labour market shortages across the retail sector must be actively addressed. Further steps need to be taken to support workers moving from the Pandemic Unemployment Payment into employment. More support is also needed to bring all available talent pools into the labour market. Addressing the high cost of rent and childcare is crucial.
• Refocus on competitiveness: Irish business costs must be kept in line with similar EU economies. The nature and timing of new labour market reforms must take account of the cost and impact that they will have on businesses, particularly SMEs.
“In the short term, retail is relying on the successful restoration of normal economic life in the run up to Christmas. To sustain the recovery, we need to make our town and city centres more attractive to visitors and address labour market shortages,” concluded Mr Dillon.