Retail Ireland urges landlords to cut rental costs

RETAIL Ireland, the IBEC group representing the sector, said over half of participants in a new survey believe the climate for the Irish retail sector continues to remain weak and could get worse.

It says jobs are under threat and argues that landlords who have continued to reap unsustainably high rents have to cut rental costs without delay as the sector struggles to survive.

Covering the first quarter of 2010, the findings highlight the responses of 131 retailers, with 54% rating the current business climate as poor or very poor.

Almost half (48%) of respondents rate the prospects for their business during the second quarter as being poor or very poor.

In the case of sales, 31% said they expect figures to decrease in the second quarter, while 44% expect sales to stay the same and a quarter believe sales will increase slightly.

Commenting on the results, Retail Ireland director Torlach Denihan said: “The survey highlights the difficult trading conditions facing retailers, due to weak consumer demand, high rents and an uncompetitive cost base.

“Despite deep price cuts by retailers, the sales outlook is still poor and many retailers believe they will have redundancies and short-time working over the next three months,” he said.

Other Findings:

* 25% of respondents expect more customers in the second quarter, 47% predict static customer numbers and 25% predict fewer customers by comparison with the first quarter.

* A total of 40% expect employee numbers to fall in the second quarter and 47% expect numbers to remain static.

* 71% of respondents expect a recruitment freeze in their companies during the second quarter.

Mr Denihan said: “In the interest of national economic competitiveness every landlord should, at a minimum, reverse on a voluntary basis rent increases implemented under the last rent review.”

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