Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Why bashing the retail behemoths could backfire

It's been a taxing day. First off we start with those big nasty retailers. How dare they come across here and set up their gargantuan stores. What liberties they take.

Don't worry though because Sammy's going to show them with his levy, one which has been watered down slightly but nevertheless looks likely to make us the pariah of Europe in the eyes of the world's biggest retailers.

There's no doubt small retailers need help and they need it now and in one sense the Executive's swift reaction to the situation needs commending.

But you can't help thinking that taxing big retailers is a bit of a base solution, one which has arisen by driving around the main roads of Northern Ireland and looking out the car window for visible signs of success.

"There's a name in 20 foot lettering. Let's tax it," they might have said.

The reason behind this conclusion is that this tax is only applicable to the retail sector and there's little solid reason to explain why.

Small estate agents are struggling but the government isn't taxing large estate agents. Small mechanics shops are struggling but you don't see them taxing large mechanic shops. And small restaurants are struggling but you don't see the government taxing large ones.

It's labouring the point but you get the drift.

The supermarkets and other large retailers are certainly not whiter than white but attacking them in this way doesn't paint Northern Ireland in a very good light.