Retailers suffer big freeze in spending
The big freeze, rock-bottom consumer confidence and fears about Tuesday's budget have left retailers around the country reeling at the start of the vital Christmas trading period.
It's make-or-break time for thousands of businesses, but the cold snap and treacherous conditions have left the retail sector nursing losses estimated at more than €60m a day.
The snow and ice couldn't have come at a worse time for the retail trade -- though many were resigned to a quiet start to the season as families were putting off their big spending decisions until after Brian Lenihan announced his Budget this week. An IBEC survey of 400 businesses has shown that snow-related losses in the retail sector will total €130m every seven days.
It is thought that lost production in manufacturing will amount to €130m a week.
Tesco reported a 70 per cent increase in online shopping orders last week, bringing it to its highest level ever.
The Director of the Small Firms Association (SFA) Avine McNally said they have been inundated with calls since the big freeze began.
Distribution companies have been badly hit. Dangerous driving conditions, meant deliveries had to be curtailed.
Retail Excellence Ireland said the big freeze was another setback for retailers who were banking on Christmas spending to pull them through a poor year in many sectors.
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Chief executive David Fitzsimmons said retailers were hoping the weather would clear up to allow pent-up shopping demand flow in time for Christmas.
In Dublin City Centre yesterday council workers were using 10 mechanical diggers to clear ice from footpaths in the main shopping areas.
Many stores postponed festive promotional events because of the weather. Now they are hoping that once people know what's in the budget the "fear factor" will go and people will begin to spend.
Meanwhile, the biggest names in Irish food, retail and business have come together to urge the Irish public to shop locally throughout 2011.
A high-profile online campaign is being hosted by the community bulletin board website Mylocalnews.ie
The message is that shopping in your local area both retains and creates jobs. The "shop local" initiative is being supported by celebrity cook Darina Allen, Chambers Ireland, Good Food Ireland, the family-owned grocers group RGDATA and the SFA.
New figures compiled by InsolvencyJournal.ie show that between January and November an average of four firms a day went to the wall.
The number of companies across all sectors declared insolvent last month totalled 142 -- a rise of 24 on October when 118 companies went bust. Across the Republic in all sectors 1,400 companies were declared insolvent between January and November.