The leading retail bodies in the UK and Ireland have issued a stark warning on how a no-deal Brexit will affect shoppers.
Aodhán Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium; Thomas Burke, director of Retail Ireland; and William Bain, head of EU and international at the British Retail Consortium, have said a no-deal Brexit will squeeze household budgets across Ireland and the UK, and lead to reduced availability of some goods.
The retail organisations highlighted how increased tariffs and new regulatory checks would lead to increases in the cost of making goods available to consumers, as well as the cost implications of non-tariff barriers such as checks and delays.
Connolly said: “A no-deal Brexit brings tariffs, customs processes, checks and costs that our industry, and Northern Ireland families in particular, cannot afford to absorb. Our households already have half of the discretionary income of British households, and less than those in the Republic of Ireland. A no-deal Brexit will hit us first and hit us hardest. This is not acceptable.
“A hard Brexit means a hard border and the disintegration of supply chains that have been built up over 40 years of EU membership. This is not a binary choice for Northern Ireland between trade with [Great Britain] and trade with the EU. Our economy is built on access to both markets and we need that to survive. No-deal makes NI a less competitive place to do business and a more expensive place to live.”
Burke said: “A no-deal Brexit would have devastating economic consequences and must be avoided. However, regardless of the type of Brexit agreed over the coming weeks, retailers will see an increase in their operating costs arising from checks at ports and other supply chain disruption. In the current operating environment, these additional costs simply cannot be absorbed and will have to be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.
“Our members continue to work hard to plan for all possible eventualities, but the ongoing uncertainty is damaging our industry and impacting our customers.”
Bain added: “It is not just the people on the island of Ireland that this will affect. Those in Great Britain will see the price of goods from Ireland and Northern Ireland rise.
“A ‘no deal’ outcome would have devastating economic consequences, potentially jeopardising years of positive economic development and integration across the islands of the UK and Ireland. It is imperative that this is avoided.”