DUBLIN: Northern Ireland's merchants could benefit from cross-border shopping trends.

Irish retailers are facing difficult trading conditions as weak consumer demand and the impact of cross border shopping hits business prospects, a new survey has found.

The study carried out by Retail Ireland, the Ibec group representing the retail sector in Ireland, found 62% of businesses expect sales to decrease

Torlach Denihan director at Retail Ireland, said the poor trading conditions were due to weak consumer demand, cross-border shopping and an uncompetitive cost base, and called for a cut in VAT, and state-controlled costs such waste disposal charges, electricity prices and compliance costs.

"Elected members of local authorities must vote to cut commercial rates by 20% when striking the annual rate on valuation in the coming weeks," he said.