14 June 2018, Dublin
Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) are launching their second annual survey at the second high-level roundtable discussion in Belfast to tackle Brexit, the Border and the Black Market. Members of the Irish Government, An Garda Síochána, the PSNI and HMRC will meet to discuss the issues that retailers on both sides of the border will face in the coming months and years.
The cross-border survey conducted by RAS has revealed that since last year border retailers in both Ireland and Northern Ireland are almost 70% more concerned about the impact Brexit will have on smuggling and the sale of illicit goods in their communities. Responses from retailers in the counties of Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan, Sligo and Louth were recorded, along with retailers across Northern Ireland. The survey results demonstrate the fact that the growing issue of smuggling over the border must remain a priority during all Brexit negotiations.
The survey found that 3/5 retailers in Northern Ireland have noticed an increase in the trade of smuggled products in the past year, while 90% of border retailers in Ireland believe the trade of smuggled products impacts their profits by 5-10%. 43% of retailers on the North side of the border estimate this same impact to be 10-20% of their turnover.
RAS spokesperson and Dublin based retailer Benny Gilsenan said “It’s not just the loss of revenue from missing out on the sale of a packet of cigarettes or bottle of wine. Retailers find that when a customer doesn’t buy these in their shop, they’re not buying their pint of milk, they’re not buying their sliced pan with us either. It has a huge knock on effect on small businesses, and this is seen on both sides of the border.”
CEO of Retail Excellence Ireland Lorraine Higgins said “Greater consideration needs to be given to the challenges retailers are facing, and how Brexit will only exacerbate those difficulties. Rising excise tax has proven to be an ineffective way of dealing with the problem, we need to see the Sale of Illicit Goods Bill introduced so that progress can finally be made.”
CEO of Retail NI Glyn Roberts said “It has become strikingly clear that more resources need to be made available to tackling the issue of smuggling in Ireland. Government needs to listen to retailers and provide the necessary supports.”
A key driving force for the illicit trading of tobacco and alcohol is the continuously increasing level of excise duty on products.
The survey also revealed a shocking lack of trust in the resources made available to the authorities by Government with only 1/5 retailers of the belief that the PSNI and An Garda Síochána have the resources they need to deal with smuggling and illicit trade in their area both north and south of the border. Only 1/5 border retailers believe that the authorities have adequate resources. Of the Northern Irish border retailers who have never reported trade in illicit goods in the past, 63% said they would not report illicit trading because they believed it would make little difference.