A Rural Independent TD has demanded that the government provide a financial aid package to “keep the doors open” in small local food retailers.

Deputy Michael Collins warned that many Irish family owned supermarkets are “on the brink of failure” due to spiralling energy bills and inflation.

The TD claimed that the reason for “debilitating energy costs” is the government’s carbon and energy taxes, along with a lack of strategic policies.

Speaking from his Cork South-West constituency today (Friday, August 12), Deputy Collins, stated:

“Many food retailers have explained to us that their average energy bill is expected to triple or even quadruple by next month, surpassing 2021 costs.

“In reality, this means an annual average store energy bill of €200,000 in September (almost €4,000/week), up from approximately €50,000 in 2021.

“One smaller west Cork food retailer saw his monthly bill jump from €5,000/month in 2021, to over €10,000 in recent months, and this is expected to jump significantly higher from next month onward,” he continued.

“Energy is the second-highest bill for food retailers, after staff costs, because of the perishable nature of product lines that require refrigeration, freezers or cold storage, 24 hours a day, all year long,” Collins explained.

TDretailers Agri-food Appeal supermarket

“The surging energy costs are creating a deepening crisis that smaller supermarkets simply cannot sustain or pass on to their customers, given the low margins within which they operate,” he continued.

“That is why we are calling on the government to provide a tailored aid package in next month’s budget,” the Rural Independent TD said.

He explained that such a package needs to include a dedicated energy rate cap for the sector; a suspension of commercial rates; capital allowance super-deduction to aid with investment; VAT warehousing; and the inclusion of food retailers in all existing, and future, state support schemes.

“Currently, all family owned retailers are deliberately and conveniently blocked from all such government schemes, including the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) energy efficiency schemes and the €55 million ‘Green Transition’ fund to help businesses veer from fossil fuels.

“Without rapid intervention, many of these family owned local businesses will no longer be in a position to retain employment, continue to support local sports and charitable organisations, and service their local communities.

“All rural communities are highly dependent on the local shop. Thus, we simply cannot allow a situation to emerge where, once again, the government stands idle, as they did when banks and post offices closed nationwide.

“It is no longer a tenable position for the government to remain idle, while many of these retail outlets are forced out of business, through no fault of their own,” the TD said.