5.4 Retail Strategy
5.4 Retail Strategy
The purpose of a Retail Strategy is to set out clear evidence-based policies and objectives in relation to retailing, in order to support competitiveness and choice whilst promoting the vitality and viability of town centres.
Having reviewed the performance of the retail strategy within the City & County Development Plans since it was introduced in 2002, it is considered that, given the scale of activity in County Kilkenny, the requirement for a broad assessment of the quantity of additional retail floorspace needed in counties over the lifetime of their strategy is not necessary to determine spatial allocation of future retail activity. For this reason, the retail strategy carried out for the County (See Appendix A) does not contain a broad quantitative assessment of any potential requirement of retail space.
At the national level, the National Planning Framework (NPF) guides all development within Ireland until 2040. The NPF does not provide specific guidance on the national retail strategy, but provides broader guidance on achieving sustainable cities and communities, as well as regionally specific guidance to help promote growth and sustained development. The NPF contains strategic policies seeking to ensure the vitality and viability of Ireland’s urban and rural places. Objective 6 relates to the role and function of urban places, highlighting the Government’s ambition to regenerate and rejuvenate cities, towns and villages as environmental assets to ensure the resiliency and vitality of urban places. National Objective 11 sets out a presumption in favour of development that will encourage people, jobs and activity within existing urban places of all sizes. National Policy Objective 16 highlights the Government’s intention of addressing vacancy rates in small town and village centres to reduce rural decline, and encourage the viability and vibrancy of rural areas.
The Southern Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) also recognises retailing as a “key part of the regional economy employing significant numbers and is central to the life and vitality of our cities, towns and village centres”.
The retail climate in Ireland and Kilkenny has become dominated by the impact of COVID-19. Whilst it is difficult at this stage to determine the extent of the impact, there is no doubt that the global pandemic will have a considerable effect on the Irish economy and on the way, we carry out our day to day business. It will be necessary to closely monitor the situation over the coming months and years in order for the Council to respond quickly to impacts as they arise.
Pre Covid-19, the retail sector represented 12% of the country’s GDP, and employed 280,000 employees. Notwithstanding, and despite the impact of the economic recession and Brexit on the Irish economy, the retail sector was continuing to make a critical contribution to the Irish economy and employment prior to the outbreak of COVID-19.
There were 909 wholesale and retail businesses in County Kilkenny (in 2018), representing an increase of 20% since 2012. A large proportion of these businesses are independent traders, specialist boutiques and fashion stores located in the retail centre of Kilkenny City.