Retailers in Ireland are planning a major injection of investment in people, skills, store refurbishments and technology to address the significant competitive threats facing the industry from global online trading and Brexit.
This is what delegates will hear today at the launch of “Shaping the Future of Irish Retail – a strategy for Irish retail 2017-2020.”
Developed by Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the sector, the report is the most comprehensive strategy developed for the sector to date, and incorporates the views and sentiments from stakeholders across the entire retail ecosystem including retailers, policy makers, employee representatives and consumers groups.
The report highlights notes that retail is a critical sector in the Irish economy and the country’s biggest private sector employer (employing 280,000 people) and that the coordinated efforts of all stakeholders will be required if the sector’s competitiveness is to be safeguarded in the years ahead.
Furthermore, the report indicates that the retail sector still lags behind the recovery seen in many other sectors of the economy, and the value of retail sales remains 13% below pre-crisis levels. The sector is facing significant new competitive challenges and Brexit is already impacting on the performance of Irish retail businesses.
Due to this structural shift, growth in retail sales between 2017 and 2020 is likely to average 1.2% to 2.2% per annum, mostly driven by population growth. At the same time, growth in employment in retail is likely to be incremental in the coming years.
Notwithstanding this, and despite a considerable softening of sentiment since the Brexit vote, Irish retailers remain optimistic about the future, with the vast majority having ambitions to increase capital investment and expand their businesses in the next three years.
Chairman of Retail Ireland and Managing Director of Eason Group, Conor Whelan says, "The results of our report show that despite a considerable softening of sentiment since the Brexit vote, Irish retailers remain optimistic about the future, with the majority having ambitions to develop, invest in and expand their businesses in the next three years. In fact, 85% of retailers surveyed said they intend to invest in people and careers in the next three to five years and 92% are planning to invest in new technology and refurbishment.”
He added, "Irish retailers are showing a great degree of adaptability in response to shifting consumer demand, and are transitioning towards an ‘omni-channel’ offering for shoppers, by embracing new technologies and building new in-store experiences. This will be critical for them in the coming years as increasing number of Irish people shop online and up to 75% of line transactions go to foreign websites, which negatively impacts Irish jobs, businesses and the State’s tax revenue.”