A significant number of non-essential retailers are preparing to close their shops amid the Covid-19 restrictions in order to secure their longer-term viability. Essential stores are considered to be supermarkets and chemists in other countries with tighter restrictions.
A number of small fashion shops in Dublin closed on Friday, with more expected to follow in the coming days
Retailers reported a footfall drop of up to 90pc in the worst affected sectors.
David Fitzsimons, chief executive of representative group Retail Excellence, said the impact of the virus over the coming weeks would lead to fundamental changes in Irish retail and a significant number of permanent closures in the longer term.
"It's an incredibly challenged time for us," he told the Sunday Independent.
He said retailers were having to accept that temporary closures might be inevitable.
"In a time of crisis, nothing is off the table - the closure of all non-essential stores is something we need to consider," he said. "We believe retail trading is going to dissipate and get worse slowly over the next few weeks, so we need to look at things from a health and safety perspective but also in terms of guaranteeing business into the future."
He said the current crisis would lead to the biggest ever restructuring of the retail industry. "When we come out of this, the retail industry in Ireland will look completely different. Potentially we will have lost 10pc of our footprint," he said.
Fitzsimons added that by remaining open as trade deteriorates, retail jobs could be placed in jeopardy.
"A temporary lay-off and closure of the store will actually be a positive," he added.
Such a move would allow staff to go on social welfare, and reduce the health risks. For some, business interruption insurance could come into effect.
However, not all retailers would welcome a shutdown.
Fitzsimons says that on average he believed non-essential retail was down 35pc.
A letter from Retail Excellence to members said that many suppliers were helping retailers. "We are aware of many supportive suppliers who are significantly extending credit terms (120-180 days in some cases with the probability of further extensions), changing buying agreements to sale and return and many are offering significant contributions to mark-downs in preparation for the return of normality," it said.
However, it said commercial landlords had generally not yet offered flexibility.
Sunday Indo Business