The Argus - - NEWS -

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.

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