Consumer spending will remain sluggish while people are uncertain about their jobs. The best way to effect a retail revival is to underpin jobs and boost employment security, said respondents to ISME’s latest quarterly Trends Survey.
“Employment maintenance is vital,” said ISME head of research Jim Curran. “The Government should extend its employment subsidy scheme to businesses with less than 10 employees, which provide over 90% of all employment in Ireland.
“The Government should also look at reducing the employer’s PRSI contribution in the Finance Bill in February.
“They should reduce the cost of running a business, reducing local charges on rates, waste and energy. We were very disappointed to see the carbon tax introduced in the last budget.”
Mr Curran is also demanding the Government apply pressure on the banks to free up access to credit. The indigenous employers’ body also wants the State to abolish its late payment legislation, and to instantly reduce the charges extracted from small businesses.
The Trends Survey also found small businesses are reporting increases of 5% on transport, energy, raw materials, insurance and waste.
Of these, insurance costs have risen most.
However, despite inflationary pressures, respondents expressed their highest levels of confidence in two years.
While a net 21% are less optimistic, this is up on the 37% figure of the previous quarter and the net 74% less optimistic in the fourth quarter of 2008.
Manufacturing is the most optimistic sector with a net 2% pessimistic.
Distribution was at -44%, retail -50%, and services -64%. Naturally, the most negative sector remains construction, with a net 75% less optimistic.