The retail representative group, Retail Excellence Ireland, have called for legislation to make online market-places liable to collect VAT and duties.

The group say the proposed measure will help to counteract the level of retail spend leaving the country. Retail Excellence Ireland is calling for legislation similar to the UK’s Finance Act which was introduced in December. Under the Act, online market-places were made responsible for collecting VAT and duties.

“We think that we should expect no less here in Ireland, because it’s not enough in budgets to just increase consumer spend and think that takes care of retail,” said Lorraine Higgins, Deputy Chief Executive of Retail Excellence Ireland, “We need retail-focused solutions for the future.”

Ms Higgins, Deputy Chief Executive at Retail Excellence Ireland, said two-thirds of online spend is leaving Ireland, and retailers here are aggrieved by competition from online retailers based outside the state who do not have to pay duties. “First and foremost we need to look at the online market-places, and the fact that they don’t have any duty on them,” she said. “So what we’d like to see is robust legislation introduced in the upcoming budget that would make online marketplaces jointly and separately liable to collect VAT and duties.”

She said retailers “were investing heavily in marketing campaigns to try and offset the type of cheap imports that were coming from websites, predominantly outside of the EU” She said the industry is seeing is an elongation of the shopping period at Christmas time, and a lot of retailers have stepped up to the mark and offered bargains, deductions and discounts in November, in order to try and encourage people into stores, to offset the challenges coming from websites outside of Ireland.