The Retail Sector the largest private sector employer in the country, employing over 12.5% of the workforce. The Retail Sector is an important part of the domestic economy.
There are 40,000 retail businesses across the whole country; 90% of which are Irish-owned. The Retail and Wholesale Sector supports employment in every city, town and village in the country, employing over 280,000 people. In addition, Retail indirectly supports jobs in other areas, such as logistics and distribution.
A vibrant retail sector supports vibrant communities and helps to make a place attractive to live in, invest in and to visit.
Retail Consultation Forum
The Retail Consultation Forum was established under the Action Plan for Jobs 2014 to provide a platform for structured engagement between the retail sector and relevant Government Departments, in response to the 50,000 job losses during the recession.
The purpose of the Forum is to allow key issues of relevance to the retail sector to be discussed, with a view to identifying practical actions which could be taken by Government, or by industry itself, to support the sector with particular emphasis on achieving sustainable jobs growth in the sector. The Forum aims to be interactive, participative and solutions-focused. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation provides the Secretariat to the Forum.
For the purposes of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015, the Retail Consultation Forum is obliged to comply with the Transparency Code as it is exempted from registering on the Lobbying Register. This also applies to any Working Group set up by the Forum. The Terms of Reference outlines how the Forum operates.
The Work Programme for the Forum is driven by the members and the issues that they have identified as being critical to examine so as to enable a sustainable recovery for the retail sector.
The Forum meets on a quarterly basis. Minutes of meetings of the Forum held since June 2014 are published on this website.
Membership of the Forum includes retail associations such as RGDATA, Retail Ireland, Retail Excellence, other bodies such as ISME, SFA and Chambers Ireland, a number of retailers, the City and County Managers Association and a number of relevant Government Departments.
Following the Report by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in March 2015, Policy Options to Support Business Growth and Job Creation and Retention in Town and Village Centres, three Working Groups were established by the Retail Consultation Forum in October 2015 to examine a number of the recommendations made in the Joint Oireachtas Committee Report.
The 'Retail and Town Centre Renewal' Working Group, prepared a 'Framework for Town Centre Renewal'. The Framework was launched by Minister Mitchell O’Connor in April 2017. The Framework supports towns and villages through their Local Authorities to address the challenges of creating a vibrant and viable town centre, which will support enterprise and economic development across towns and villages throughout Ireland. The Framework sets out the key characteristics of a successful town centre and identifies existing supports and best practice examples from around the country. The Framework includes an Action Plan for Town Centre Renewal.
Other working groups established by the Retail Consultation Forum are the Retail and Reducing Energy Costs working group, and the Retail and Skills working group.
In 2017, the Retail Consultation Forum will continue to work on initiatives to address the key concerns of the sector, including:
- Maximising opportunities from the digital economy (eCommerce and Online Trading)
- Identifying how to address skills issues for the sector
- Keeping a focus on evolving challenges for the retail sector resulting from Brexit
- Following up on actions identified for revitalising Town centres
- Supporting the sector to reduce energy costs
- Preparation of pre-Budget submission from Retail members of the Forum to the Department of Finance for Budget 2018.