Northern Ireland

How have the big stores reacted to the tax hike?

The retail levy on larhe shops will affect 76 major stores across Northern Ireland.

On average, the big retailers will have to pay an additional £66,000 a year in taxation.

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said the money generated will be used to help fund a rates cut for smaller businesses.

But some of the biggest shops operating in Northern Ireland have largely been critical of the new scheme.

B&Q - nine stores affected

"This news is disappointing as the levy will have a disproportionate effect on non-food retailers, such as B&Q.

"B&Q operates from large stores purely because of the type and size of products sold in them. Supermarkets, on the other hand, occupy large outlets because of the very high turnover of products sold through them every day.

"The sales and profit generated therefore differ significantly, but the levy fails to recognise this."

Ikea - one store affected

"We remain disappointed by the decision the minister has made today with regard to the large retail levy.

"In our view this is not the best way forward and it undermines our confidence in the Northern Ireland government's ability to create fair business conditions and support all retailers who are contributing to the growth of the local economy and the jobs market.

"We believe the minister has potentially put hundreds of jobs at risk across the province.

"He has also created a barrier to entry for any retailer planning to expand into Northern Ireland and sent a clear signal that if you are a large retailer that Northern Ireland is closed for business for at least the next three years."

Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Marks & Spencer

Between them they have 38 stores that will fall under the new levy. They have issued a joint response through the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium.

Director Jane Bevis, said: "Given the very difficult and deteriorating trading conditions which retailers are operating in, persisting with a large retail levy poses a serious threat to the sector's ability to invest and grow.

"This burden should be spread more thinly across a wider range of businesses to help reduce that potential damage in constituencies all over Northern Ireland.

"The scrutiny of the rate relief and levy plans conducted by the committee was extremely thorough and deserves to be properly considered by the assembly as this bill is taken forward.

"Improvements have been made and proper time needs to be taken to prevent further unintended consequences which could still arise as a result of this tax."

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