Perspectives

Outlook on the Retail Sector

Domestic Market Review

Retail is Ireland’s largest Industry and the largest private sector employer, employing almost 300,000 workers with 3 in 4 of those employed based outside Dublin.

85% of the 37,400 retail and wholesale businesses in Ireland employ less than 10 people. The sector generates the largest contribution to the Irish exchequer of circa €7bn annually.

The sector has been a vital part in the Irish recovery since the Global Financial Crisis and a strong barometer of consumer confidence. In recent years, the sector has experienced significant and fundamental disruption with the shift to online shopping being a major catalyst.

At the outset of 2020, concerns remained widespread amongst retailers as to how perennial sectoral issues would be addressed and the impact of a disorderly Brexit on supply chains. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated concerns, resulting in lengthy closures of nonessential retailers and social distancing requirements for those allowed to remain opened.

The ‘COVID-19’ budget in October 2020 saw the Irish Government implement a series of welcome measures to assist liquidity, protect employment and stimulate the economy in unprecedented times. Whilst the stimulus, supports and debt warehousing have greatly assisted survival, they are temporary measures.

In this article we look at the challenges faced by the retail sector and the COVID-19 impact. We examine the restructuring options available to businesses and key considerations for retailers going forward.

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