Here is some alarming news for all shoppers in Northern Ireland as prices have hit their highest peak for the last 18 years, according to the latest Shop Price Index from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and NielsenIQ. Prices are in fact 8% higher on average than they were this time last year.
And Consumers Woes Are Far From Over
Consumers are really suffering right now and the prediction is that their woes are far from over, with a warning that prices are going to reach more heady heights in the next few months.
Here is what Neil Johnston, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC), is quoted as saying in an article in the Irish News about this steep rise in shop prices:
“People here have had little respite from the cost-of-living squeeze as prices at shop tills spike further,
“It’s too early to say if shop price inflation has crested.
“But what is certain is that household finances are likely to be strained further in the months ahead by energy bills, mortgages rates, possible hikes in domestic rates, and the freeze in income tax thresholds.”
He added: “Retailers are striving to support customers by expanding value ranges, fixing prices of some essential goods, and providing discounts for vulnerable groups.
“However, the sheer weight of costs bearing down on the sector and its supply chain is proving difficult to absorb.”
Business Rates Could Rise By A Significant Margin
He went on in the article to talk about the struggles that retailers are having and will continue to have, with business rates looking likely to rise by a significant margin:
“In England, Scotland and Wales, the respective administrations decided at the end of last year to freeze business rates for the coming year..
“Unfortunately we’ve no decision here, and indeed there is, unbelievably, talk of a significant rise.
“Such a move would inevitably add to pressure on prices which is the last thing consumers need. We would urge the Secretary of State to freeze business rates.”
We totally agree that a hike on business rates, when so many businesses are on the edge due to higher prices of raw materials, ingredients and huge increases in energy bills, would be catastrophic for the retail sector. They need a freeze on their rates and they need as much help as possible from the government to get them through this very difficult period, for both themselves and the overall community in Northern Ireland.