Opening Bell: Renting on Grafton Street, Irish retailers' sterling woes, private sector pay

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Dublin's Grafton Street is the 13th most expensive in the world to rent a retail space.

The annual Main Streets Across the World report tracks 462 of the top retail streets around the globe. Grafton Street placed as high as sixth in the rankings a decade ago.

Fifth Avenue in New York remains the most expensive. With rents priced at an annual $3,000 per square foot in 2015, it is nearly 50% more expensive than the second place Causeway Bay in Hong Kong.

Avenue des Champs Élysées in Paris retained its crown as the most expensive retail location in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), followed closely by London’s New Bond Street.

Rents are down this year for the four streets at the top of the list.

The figures were compiled by international property experts Cushman and Wakefield.

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Irish online shopping increased by 20% in the last quarter.

The latest Retail Ireland monitor reveals that people took to the internet as the value of sterling dropped following Brexit.

It also shows that more shoppers are heading north of the border again looking for bargains.

Irish retailers have reduced their their prices by an average of nearly 3% in an effort to compete.

Retail Ireland director Thomas Burke said:

"Operating in that environment is going to be increasingly difficult for Irish retailers when on one side you have a consumer who is demanding to seeing the value of sterling to decline in terms of prices and on the other side, for a lot of retailers, they have UK-based suppliers who are seeking price increases to offset some of their rising costs.

"So that leaves Irish retailers caught in the middle to some degree. And there is going to be an element of a squeeze on margins as a result."

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Easyjet is considering applying for an Irish airline licence to ensure it retains full access to the EU post-Brexit, the Irish Times reports.

The British budget carrier's chief executive, Carolyn McCall said on Tuesday that it was likely to apply for an air operator's certificate (AOC) in "another EU country" in 2017, with Ireland believed to be one of the most likely countries. It is understood that Easyjet has been in contact with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), a necessary step for AOC application.
McCall did stress, however, that the company's headquarters would remain in Luton Airport in the south of England.

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Private sector workers need a pay rise of at least 4%, according to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

The private sector committee confirmed that unions are to seek the increase for their members next year.

This would mean full-time workers would receive a minimum increase of €1,000.

Chairperson of ICTU's private sector committee John Douglas said:

"They'll be spending it in the local economy... Generating economic activity which creates more jobs so you have that virtuous circle. And that's what's needed: you need to put money back in people's pockets.

"Unfortunately over the last five or six years, there's been nothing but money taken out of people's pockets with increasing rents, housing costs, VHI, motor insurance. People are really, really struggling to put food on the table and pay rents.