Weather costing firms €7m every day in lost business
THE big freeze could cost the economy up to €7m a day in lost business with small shops being forced to shut their doors.
The Small Firms Association last night said it had been inundated with calls from companies reporting massive disruption, with distribution companies the worst hit as the icy conditions meant deliveries were extremely difficult or impossible.
Problems with staff getting to work or needing to leave early were also having a huge impact, though people were making great efforts to get there, said SFA Director Avine McNally.
"The SFA estimate that if half the private workforce lost just 30 minutes today the result is 49,300 days lost, a lost productivity cost of just over €7m," she said.
Many companies were reporting two-hour travelling delays for staff and the retail sector was badly hit by a significant drop in sales as fewer people ventured out.
Retail Excellence Ireland said the big freeze was another huge setback for retailers relying on Christmas spending to pull them through a terrible year.
"I have had calls from some retailers in places like Ashbourne and Navan and other provincial towns saying they're just going to have to shut tomorrow because the place is dead and it's so difficult for staff and managers to get in as well," chief executive David Fitzsimmons said.
Some convenience stores close to housing estates fared well as people stocked up close to home, but more distant retail parks were hit hard.
Most retailers said they were hoping the weather would clear up to allow pent-up shopping demand flow in time for Christmas.
Dublin Chamber of Commerce said that while retail business was down in the capital -- probably by around 10pc -- it was still ticking along.
However many stores postponed festive promotional events such as corporate shopping nights because of the weather.
"It is still early enough before Christmas that things can recover, but impulse shopping is definitely down," chamber spokesman Patrick King said.
Some retailers were also putting more of a focus on their online offerings to try and capture business that way, he added
Tesco has reported a 70pc surge in online shopping orders this week, bringing it to its highest level ever.
Retailers in Dublin were also calling for more attention to be paid to clearing pedestrian streets, such as Henry St, of snow and slush.
Mr King said all the attention was being paid to main roads, but there was a huge amount of human traffic on these streets who needed to be kept safe.