Year of survival ahead for business sector

LOCAL traders are facing another difficult year of uncertainty, and survival will be key according to Ballyclare Chamber of Trade President Niall McConkey.

As festive celebrations brought tidings of joy, it also brought dread for businesses and customers as it heralded an increase in VAT from 17.5 to 20 per cent.

This will mean a price rise in many consumer items. Although some products, such as food and children's clothing are exempt, there will most likely be an increase in the cost of getting them onto the shop shelf.

Woodsides owner and Chamber of Trade President, Niall McConkey said: "Certainly in the present climate the VAT rise is another difficult step for retailers to take.

"Some businesses will be able to absorb the rise, whereas others will find it very difficult.

"There could be some silly prices out there if the traders put the rise onto products, if you have a price of 4.99 then the 2.5 per cent increase will make the price look silly, so some retailers will just keep the original price - but there will still be a negative effect.

"People are being very cautious with their money and choosing very carefully what they buy; the forecast is difficult."

Read the full story in this week's Times...