Retail Ireland has detailed a three-point plan designed to get shoppers back into town centres and reverse the 25% drop in retail spend since the height of the boom.
The Ibec group’s director Stephen Lynam said retailers are trading in difficult circumstances. He said that, with as many as 75% of retail businesses located outside Dublin, town centre rejuvenations have a part to play in the growth strategy for the sector.
“Firstly, we need to focus on making city and town centres better places to visit,” Mr Lynam said. “That means identifying pilot towns and cities where new partnerships, or ‘town teams’, involving retailers, landlords, local authorities, representative groups and so on can be formed to establish targets and achieve demonstrable improvements in town centre locations.”
Mr Lynam said the second measure should be to make town centres more accessible to consumers.
“One way to do this is to allow those travelling into city centres for periods of two or three hours to park for free,” he said.
Finally, Mr Lynam said conditions for shop owners need to be improved.
“Retail Ireland have called on government to allow Senator Feargal Quinn’s bill [on upward-only rent reviews], supported by the Seanad, to pass through the Dáil so that the President can decide whether or not to refer it to the Supreme Court.
“There is a particular issue around vacant retail units throughout Ireland. There are improvements in parts of the country. A key way to make that happen is to reduce rates and offer rates holidays for retailers that take on a vacant unit.”
He added, with low interest rates the Government should commit to spending 4% of GDP on infrastructure development by 2020 which would act as a stimulus for the local economy.
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