Pharmacists in Ireland are becoming increasingly less optimistic about the prospects for their business, according to the latest quarterly survey by the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU ).
While 40 per cent of pharmacies were less optimistic about their business prospects in July this year, that figure had increased to more than 54 per cent by October, the IPU quarterly trends survey reveals. The number of pharmacists who believe the business environment is getting worse is roughly unchanged at 57 per cent.
Almost half of pharmacies surveyed said that sales had fallen in the past three months while more than 46 per cent believe that sales will fall further in the next three months, the survey states. The pattern is the same in terms of footfall with 45 per cent of pharmacies reporting a fall in the past three months. A chink of light appears in terms of footfall expectations for the next three months, with almost one in three indicating they expect footfall to increase while four in 10 confirm that they expect footfall to be much the same.
One in five pharmacies have reduced employment over the last three months. However, despite the continuing pressure on sales, more than two-thirds of pharmacies have managed to maintain employment levels while one in 10 actually increased employment numbers. The vast majority of pharmacies expect to maintain employment numbers over the next three months.
Business costs remain a major issue for pharmacies, with almost four in 10 reporting an increase in their costs in the past three month. Energy, employment, waste charges, and commercial rates were the main cost concerns of pharmacists, the report indicates.
“This latest survey shows that pharmacies are suffering more and more from the perfect storm combination of falling sales and increasing costs, and it is to pharmacies’ credit that most have managed to maintain employment levels while one in 10 are actually increasing job numbers,” said Irish Pharmacy Union president Rory O’Donnell. “Consumer demand is likely to remain low but pharmacies, and indeed other retail businesses, would benefit significantly if the excessive costs they face, particularly excessive energy costs, draconian rents and local charges, were addressed. The upcoming Budget presents the opportunity to address these exorbitant costs that continue to undermine retail pharmacy businesses.”