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EU Exit
07th December 2020

Northern Ireland consumers could face potential difficulties when shopping online after Brexit warns The Consumer Council

The Consumer Council is concerned that consumers in Northern Ireland could face potential new difficulties when shopping online from 1 January 2021, following the end of the transition period. Custom administration could be applied to parcels arriving in Northern Ireland from GB, which will likely lead to higher costs, delays and reduced choice for Northern Ireland consumers shopping online.

Carmel McConville, Interim Chief Executive of The Consumer Council, said: “Customs rules around goods arriving into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK are still under consideration. Our concern is that consumers in Northern Ireland may end up paying more when ordering goods online from sellers in GB, which is the most popular online market for Northern Ireland consumers. Online sellers faced with additional costs may pass these onto consumers, or might decide not to sell into Northern Ireland at all.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance and reliance on online shopping, indeed two-thirds of Northern Ireland consumers intend to do more shopping online this Christmas.

“The Consumer Council is asking that all postal items from GB to Northern Ireland are exempt from any customs processes. Also urgent clarity is needed now for all online retailers and parcel operators on how the Northern Ireland Protocol will be applied from the end of the transition period. In the absence of guidance, there is a risk that businesses may make decisions on a worst case scenario basis and choose to withdraw some services from Northern Ireland.”

Minister for the Economy Diane Dodds MLA, said “We all know how reliant we are on parcel delivery especially at this time of year. It is very concerning that there is no guidance to businesses on what the requirements will be for parcels sent from GB to NI from 1 January. This is a serious business issue, but in the current context it has even more serious implications for consumers. I have raised this issue several times with UK Government and will continue to do so. Now more than ever, it is vital that we ensure that consumers do not face price rises.”  

The Consumer Council has published a detailed report on the potential impact of EU Exit for Northern Ireland consumers who shop online. You can read it using the shortcut below.