TRADERS FIGHT BACK WITH PRICE DROPS AFTER VAT INCREASE
RETAIL SECTOR NOT PROFITEERING AND DO EVERYTHING TO KEEP TRADE LOCAL NOVEMBER 2008
DUNDALK retailers fight back by cutting prices and absorbing a recent VAT hike themselves in a bid to keep trade local.
Austin Reid, proprietor of Austin Reid Clothing, Park Street, says, ‘We are not profiteering. Traders are doing everything we can to help local people at what we know is a very difficult financial time.’
He adds it is vital shoppers understand the real impact of taking their business north of the border.
‘At the end of the day, if businesses close here, that is fewer rates going to the council, and as a result there will be less money to spend on services in the town.’
He believes it is ‘our very way of life’ which will suffer if Dundalk people continue to shop in the north.
‘Retailers here are huge employers. When you take all the jobs in shops together, employment provided is as much as that of a substantial factory.’
Mr Reid criticises the government’s decision to raise VAT to 21.5%, which he says would have to be absorbed by shop owners.
‘We couldn’t even think about passing that on to the customer. But we are fighting a huge battle at a time when the British government is going to take VAT down by 2.5%.’
He contends Dundalk town council is not doing enough to promote the town as a vibrant place to shop.
‘If they are promoting the town in any way I certainly don’t hear it. Newry is doing plenty of national radio and TV advertising, but I don’t see the same attitude from Dundalk.’
Clanbrassil Street traders point out cheaper prices across the border is a myth to which many shoppers heading to Newry are falling victim.
Padhraic Conlon, of Byrne’s Pharmacy, and a member of the traders’ lobby group, says that the mindset of people that they have to head north ‘for a bargain’ is actually costing them more for certain items.
‘What many people aren’t aware of is that in the north there is a high VAT rate on over-the-counter medications, but in the south, there is no VAT at all on these products, which means that cough medicines, tablets and vitamins can all work out cheaper when bought locally.’
This is borne out in his own pharmacy with more sterling than he has seen in years coming through the tills.
‘What is also important for people to realise is that along with the fact that jobs here are suffering because business is not being kept local, money being spent in Newry is not even benefitting the local economy there because profits are just going back to the UK headquarters of these chain stores.’
Meanwhile, Drogheda borough council announces it will offer free car-parking in certain areas for four hours a day from 4 December.
Dundalk town clerk Frank Pentony says he isn’t able to comment on any matters relating to free parking proposals.
Aisling Caraher (Front Left) Sharon Gregory, Laura Quinn and Fionnuala Short with (Middle) Caroline Woods, Shauna Luckie, Aoife Kelly, Sarah Barry, Emma Fitzpatrick, Carla Fitzpatrick and Niamh Gregory who took part in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat” performed by members of the Shelagh Youth Club in November 2003.