Northern Ireland’s retail industry is undergoing seismic change which is driven by changes in shopping habits, new technology, stiff competition, falling prices and burgeoning regulatory costs. Many in the industry are responding by refining their business models, investing in new technology and revamping their logistics capabilities.

What’s clear from our ‘Retail 2020’ report is that jobs in retail will in future be higher skilled, more productive and better paid, but that there will be fewer of them. The number of stores is also forecast to drop further.

These changes have profound implications too for devolved public policy, particularly for employment prospects in communities more reliant on retail jobs, for our town centres and for future revenues from taxes such as business rates.

The cumulative burden of government-imposed tax and regulatory costs has mushroomed and is accelerating the pace of change affecting retail. This reinforces the need for a far more coherent approach to policy making, where business and government as a whole in Northern Ireland work together to deliver a joint retail road map which nurtures the sector and helps it fulfil its potential over the decade ahead. This would benefit retail, its supply chain and the other sectors it touches.