We've become a self-service nation as retailers forced to cut staff
Published 19/06/2011 | 05:00
Ireland has become a self-service nation because many retailers can no longer afford to keep on enough staff.
Employment in retail has plunged from 307,000 three years ago to just 255,000 now.
This means that retailing in Ireland has been transformed from a full-service culture in which shop workers brought clothing to the changing rooms for you to a new regime where it's every man or woman for themselves.
And it also means that many retailers have cut back on opening hours because the high cost of staff means it is no longer viable to stay open.
"Quite simply we have moved from the full-service environment where there was someone to greet you on your arrival at the store to a self-service environment because we have had to modify our costs, especially labour, in the face of imploding consumer demand," according to Dave Fitzsimons of Retail Excellence Ireland.
Petrol stations are also being forced to close at night because they can't afford to pay staff double time, according to Topaz Service Station's Marketing Director Paul Candon.
The antiquated Joint Labour Committee system requires service stations to pay up to €19 an hour for workers employed between midnight and 7am.
"We would love to have taxi drivers pulling in at night to fill up or eat in the deli, but it's just too expensive to operate at these premium rates," said Mr Candon.
"So what happens is you shut down the night service and that's a job gone, when you could have employed someone if the rates weren't so high."
Scrapping the Joint Labour Committee labour laws and upward-only rent reviews would save nearly 43,000 jobs and create an additional 31,840 positions in the retail sector, according to Retail Excellence Ireland.
Mr Fitzsimons said that reform of labour regulations and rents in the Irish retail sector would also safeguard 42,748 vulnerable jobs.