Some time ago I followed up on much of my writing about buying Irish by consolidating everything into a single page – available here. In response to that, I received this e-mail from a regular ValueIreland reader making some interesting points on the whole “buy Irish” topic:
I would like to compliment you on your new website and the basis of the content. I realise I have criticised your lack of buy Irish content but I feel you are now addressing this issue. As I have stated in the past I am a retailer with a supermarket in Abbeyleix.
I feel it is important to point out a few details I have discovered throughout the last 16 months.
Ireland has had the most competitive retail sector throughout Europe for the last decade. The main reason for the higher prices in comparison with the rest of Europe is the incredibly high running costs for a business in Ireland compared with the rest of Europe.
Ireland has a population under 5 million and yet we have a very strong independent retail sector of which accounts for 47% of the total sales within the grocery sector alone. This sector also employs over 60% the staff employed within this sector. We also have Tesco, Dunnes and Superquinn.
The UK has a population of 65 million and a small independent retail sector which accounts for less than 15% of the total sales within the grocery sector. The main competitors are Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s(Morrisons are now owned by Sainsbury’s) and a couple of smaller retail chains such as Kwik Save.
Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda were charged with price fixing during 2008 and paid in excess of 3 million pound in fines.
In Ireland retailers do not have the luxury of fixing prices as it is such a small market and so many competitors. Each independent retailer is striving to develop their own business and provide better value than the larger multiples. For this reason alone it makes the Irish market more competitive. Unfortunately the government is unwilling to assist Irish businesses in reducing prices by constantly increasing the cost of running a business in Ireland.
I appreciate the efforts you are making to provide some insight into the reasons for supporting Irish produce and Irish businesses and for that I applaud you.
Nice to get the compliments, but also interesting (once you appreciate the angle the writer is coming from) to see the comments on the costs of doing business in Ireland.
A couple of years ago, in response to the flood of shoppers heading north, Forfas completed a report that said (paraphrasing) that while costs were higher in Ireland compared to north of the border, the cost differences didn’t make up the full price differences we were suffering from when doing our grocery shopping.