Cold snap 'could cost businesses millions of euros'
The cost of Ireland's cold snap could cost businesses millions of euro, it was claimed today.
Avine McNally, director of the Small Firms Association (SF), said it had been inundated with calls from companies reporting wide scale interruption.
She revealed distribution companies were the worst to suffer, with driving conditions making deliveries impossible in some parts and extremely difficult in others.
"The retail sector is reporting significant downturn in sales as a result of less people coming out to shop in large towns and cities," said Ms McNally.
"Another threat is in the exporting sector where some delays have been experienced."
Ms McNally said many companies were short staffed as employees were having difficulties getting to work - with some reporting a two hour travelling delay.
The association estimates small firms employ more than 780,000 people nationwide and claimed if half of the workforce was 30 minutes late for work because of the snow, it would result in 49,300 work days lost.
"That's a lost productivity cost of just over €7m", said Ms McNally.
"While employees are making great efforts in attending for work, there is still time lost and the overall cost in terms of days lost is difficult to access."
However Tom Coffey, of Dublin City Business Association (DCBA), said while footfall in the capital was low, many retailers expected Christmas shopping to be later and slower than usual.
"All of this year has been trudging along at best because of the recession," he said.
"People are concerned, they have lost confidence in Government, they are saving more and now they are waiting for the Budget."
Mr Coffey said while shoppers might not be travelling into the city centre during the cold snap, workers were instead buying heavy coats, shoes and hot meals and drinks.
"In terms of Christmas shopping, I think there will be a surge once the budget is over," he continued.
"Christmas is about children and families and children don't worry about the recession, they worry about Christmas.
"Parents also bring children into the city centre to see the lights because it's an atmosphere you don't get anywhere else."