60,000 retail jobs at risk as Ireland mulls more Covid restrictions

Retail sector warns that any move to close down shops deemed “non-essential” could see another 60,000 jobs lost in retail.

Retail Excellence has urged the Irish Government to classify all retail stores as essential, warning that closures in response to rising Covid-19 cases would do “permanent and serious damage” to the Irish non-food retail sector.

“Any move to level 4 or above will have a devastating impact on the retail industry, particularly those smaller retailers not yet trading online,” the group said. “We cannot shut down the industry at this time of the year.

“We know that 70pc of the spend online goes to overseas based retailers and we urge shoppers that are going online to go to Irish websites and shop local”

“All retail should be classed as ‘essential’ especially, we cannot simply ‘kill off Christmas’. Retailers in Northern Ireland and across Europe remain open despite higher infection rates.”

Under Level 4 and 5 restrictions being mulled by the Government today (19 October), only essential shops such as supermarkets and chemists are allowed to remain open.

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Retail Excellence said that many retailers have not yet made the migration to online.

“A further 60,000 jobs are at risk in addition to the 30,000 that have already been lost in the industry.

“Since the outbreak of the pandemic retailers have strictly followed all the government advice and guidelines and invested heavily to ensure their premises are safe. The numbers of cases linked to retail are minimal.

“Closing at this time will seriously curtail the Christmas shopping season. There will be a huge surge in online shopping this year. We know that 70pc of the spend online goes to overseas based retailers and we urge shoppers that are going online to go to Irish websites and shop local.”

Retail Excellence said that if Ireland decides to close down huge parts of the retail industry then it needs assurances by Government, including a clear roadmap and strategy to reopen, click and collect e-commerce options to remain open to the public and the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme reinstated immediately.

It also called for the Covid Recovery Support Scheme (CSS) to be up and running immediately, instruments to manage legacy debts like commercial rent and further funding to the for the Online Trading Voucher and the Online Retail Scheme for retailers not yet online.

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 19 October, 2020