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Irish businesses worst affected in Europe by Covid-19 restrictions

Ireland is now almost a month into Level 5 restrictions, with December 1st being the target for ending the measures.

The Government's plan is to move the country back to Level 3 restrictions if the spread of Covid-19 is at a manageable level, once December rolls around.

Level 3 restrictions would mean many businesses would be allowed to reopen with Covid-19 protocols in place.

According to Retail Ireland who published their November Retail Monitor, Level 5 has already had a major impact on businesses as footfall in Irish retail has fallen more than anywhere else in Europe, since the start of the crisis.

They said the information was taken from Google mobility tracking data, and excludes grocery and pharmacy. According to the monitor, people started adjusting their behaviour long before the most recent level 5 restrictions were formally announced.

The group said retailers were increasingly concerned about their ability to manage social distancing, queueing and stock replenishment in a narrow three-week December window, especially giving the significant pent-up demand due to store closures.

Retail Ireland said the Government must now move to unwind retail restrictions in advance of December.

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Speaking about the latest data, Retail Ireland director Arnold Dillon said: “In response to falling Covid-19 case numbers and the need to manage Christmas trading safely over the coming weeks, the government should move to unwind retail restrictions in advance of December.

“A short three-week shopping window in December will create significant additional challenges for retailers working to manage numbers in stores and reduce the need for queues.

“Public health is the priority and retailers are taking extra steps to ensure a safe Christmas for customers, including extended opening hours.”

He said that as we have seen from earlier lockdowns, heightened Covid-19 concerns have depressed consumer sentiment.

He also added that the run up to Christmas is make or break for many retailers, and they are relying on the period to make up for the major financial hit taken earlier in the year.

He concluded by saying “After a period of increased spending activity in the latter weeks of September, total spending declined through the first half of October. The latest daily data, up to October 25th, only covers the first four days of the nationwide ‘Level 5’ restrictions."

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