Retail Ireland welcomes clarity on retail reopening, but warns of major challenges ahead

Flexible working hours mean individuals are living their lives in different ways than previous generations

"Unless further measures are taken, more business failures and redundancies are inevitable," says director Arnold Dillon

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4 May 2021 | 0

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Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, today welcomed clarity that the sector would reopen fully on Monday, 17 May, with click and collect resuming a week earlier, on Monday, 10 May. The group said retail businesses were looking forward to reopening and staying open, and would be reviewing and updating their public health protocols to ensure a safe experience for customers and staff.

Retail Ireland director Arnold Dillon described the announcement as “a long time coming”.

“The last few months have been incredibly stressful for retail businesses and their staff,” Dillon said. “We now have a clear roadmap and can plan ahead with confidence. It is crucial that consumers support those businesses that have been badly hit by Covid restrictions. Unfortunately, some businesses will not reopen, many more will be relying on strong summer sales to ensure a viable business into the future.

“Government supports have been a lifeline for many businesses, but debt levels have increased significantly, and many rent disputes remain unresolved,” he added.

“Unless further measures are taken, more business failures and redundancies are inevitable. Supporting the experience economy and breathing life back into our towns and cities must be a top priority over the coming weeks and months.”

Meanwhile, The Irish Times reports that traders in Dublin city centre are calling for “urgent” intervention from planners to stop the decline of the Henry Street, as it is estimated that almost one in three shops could lie empty on the street when the retail sector reopens fully.

Richard Guiney, chief executive of Dublin Town which represents local retailers, estimates the vacancy rate on Henry Street will be 31% when shops reopen. The street, which runs west from O’Connell Street, housed several UK retailers that have closed in recent times, such as Debenhams and Oasis. while Swedish giant H&M also recently announced the closure of its nearby outlet.

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