Retailers have called for an early reopening date for shops if Covid-19 case numbers continue to fall, an industry body has said.
Retail Excellence, the largest representative body for retail in the country, urged the Government to clarify in the next 10 days its plans to reopen non-essential retail so that retailers can prepare for Christmas.
The organisation’s managing director Duncan Graham said it is crucial that the Government meets its "realistic and achievable" demands if the industry is to recover in 2021.
The group, whose members employ 280,000 staff, also wants Government and landlord support on rent bills which have accrued while businesses have been in lockdown.
A delayed reopening means fewer shopping days and that means busier shopping days
Mr Graham said: “This lockdown has been catastrophic for the retail sector.
“Our priority now is to look ahead to the end of this month and the earliest possible reopening of non-essential retail so that we can meet consumer demand and save our retail businesses.”
Mr Graham said that, as a starting point, the Government must prioritise the reopening of the shops as soon as possible.
“A delayed reopening means fewer shopping days and that means busier shopping days,” he said.
“There is a real logic to making sure we reopen non-essential retail as quickly as possible so we can effectively manage consumer demand in our shops and towns.”
He said that retailers also needed help with rents and other costs if they were to survive.
“We have heard countless examples of landlords demanding full rents from retailers who have been devastated this year,” said Mr Graham.
“If the Government does not support these businesses with adequate funding and support, retailers will suffer in 2021.”
Mr Graham also said that retailers needed to see full co-operation from local authorities and city councils to help with the reopening process.
He also encouraged all shoppers to buy Irish during the festive season.
“We want all shoppers to shop local, shop Irish, and support Irish jobs.”
Retail Excellence said that retail has proven to be a safe environment for shoppers and retailers will be able to maintain this environment during this crucial period of the year.