SETTING out its Policy Priorities for 2013, the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association has called for all Local Councils to freeze Business Rates and will be seeking to establish a local version of the Small Shop Saturday, which was successful in supporting small businesses in the USA.
NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “2012 was one of the toughest years on record for the Retail Sector, with hundreds of small shops and smaller chain stores closing, resulting in our town centre shop vacancy rate being not just the worst in the UK, but twice the national average”
“In 2013, NIIRTA will be redoubling our efforts to support local traders, town centres and help create the next generation of retail entrepreneurs. Our focus will be on solutions not problems”
“Firstly we would call upon all 26 Local Councils when they are discussing striking a non domestic rate, to freeze rates for this year to support local traders in these difficult times. If Councils did this along side the further extension by the DFP of the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme, this would take some pressure off struggling local traders”
“NIIRTA also wants to see a ‘Small Shop Saturday’ for a designated day this year across every village, town and city. We envisage this scheme being similar to the US version and would not just give more to support local traders but to also recognise their unique contribution to the economy and local community”
“The Executive also needs to bring forward an urgent Shop Vacancy Strategy to address Town Centre dereliction and engage with the Treasury on establishing long overdue local Enterprise Zones”
“Most important of all the Prime Minister needs to make a speedy decision on Corporation Tax”
“We are optimistic that in 2013, the fortunes of our retail sector can be turned around if they embrace innovation, see online as opportunity and not a threat and be world leaders in customer service”