The headline on the Six One news was one goldsmith Ann Chambers will not forget easily.
An hour earlier she had said goodbye to builders who had doubled the size of Stonechat Jewellers, her premises in Dublin's Westbury Mall.
Last year had been such a good year she had taken over the vacant outlet next door for her thriving business, a specialist in remodelling old jewellery and resetting gemstones.
"It's something other jewellers don't really focus on," she said. The new expansion would give her 10 metres of window frontage in a prime area of central Dublin. Passers-by could gaze at the expanded workshop and at the delicate craftsmanship under way.
But when she turned on the news that evening, then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was just announcing the lockdown. "The builders finished at 5pm and by 6pm Leo was telling us we wouldn't be going anywhere for a while," she said.
When the lockdown was extended and she was told there was no prospect of a return before August 10, it was a huge blow: "I won't lie to you. It was a low moment."
Grafton Street quickly became a dead zone. When a fox went for a casual stroll down the street in broad daylight it lifted the hearts of a bored nation - the hearts, that is, of everyone except the retailers whose livelihoods depend on the constant foot traffic which keeps cash registers humming and the wildlife away.
In the months since the pandemic hit, a host of major retailers have left shutters down permanently. Debenhams, Oasis, Monsoon, Mothercare and others have left voids on the streetscape and question marks for an entire industry.
Retailers are pleading for rent forbearance and big property owners are under pressure. British property firm Hammerson, for example, which owns large stakes in Dundrum, the Ilac and Kildare Village, has seen its share price fall from more than £3 late last year to about 75p now.
But it is not all bad news. For Chambers and newly expanded Stonechat Jewellers, things have worked out much better than she first feared. Customers, she says, have had time to dig out old pieces of jewellery during lockdown and are now bringing them in for remodelling. It is the type of unique business which still has appeal.
"It has actually worked out so well for us since reopening," she said. "If we didn't have the space, we would really, really have struggled with social distancing. If we hadn't made the decision to expand beforehand we probably wouldn't have afterwards, so it's great that my hand was forced.
"Who knows what the future holds, but we have definitely had as strong a July as last year, which is amazing. People aren't just browsing or wandering in any more. If someone walks in the door, they have a purpose."
Many in the sector believe Covid merely marks the end of the beginning of a massive change in the retail landscape of city centres. Adaptability will be crucial for survival.
The absence, for now at least, of thousands of commuters in Irish city centres means the world of retail has been turned on its head. Recent figures from grocery industry insights specialist Kantar underscore a new trend: even since the lockdown was lifted, shoppers are staying close to home, shopping in smaller, independent outlets. Independent grocery outlets grew sales by 44.8pc in the 12 weeks to the end of June. Locally focused chain SuperValu has also been a huge winner with year-on-year growth of 35.2pc and an additional 53,000 shoppers in its stores. Online shopping has been an obvious massive beneficiary of Covid too, but the new more locally oriented mindset of consumers is sure to have had a knock-on effect on other parts of the retail sector.
But for every winner there are many losers.
"The big challenge for cities like Dublin, Limerick and Cork is lack of footfall," said the new CEO of Retail Excellence, Duncan Graham.
"Footfall is down 50pc, partly because we've no tourists, partly because people are working remotely. So the buzz of the city centre is just not there. We are seeing the closure of well-known names and that trend will continue."
Cork, like other cities, has been hit hard by closures of British retailers, leaving gaps in the streetscape. The UK economy must still face Brexit and nobody can safely predict the hit on retail will not get worse.
"We've felt the kickback from that in Cork," said Lawrence Owens, CEO of the Cork Business Association. "I say this advisedly because all businesses are welcome if they create employment - but probably we were too dependent on a number of high street profile stores. There has to be a reinvention in terms of how we look at local indigenous businesses that are more sustainable."
But these smaller local businesses will need a helping hand in the coming months if they are to survive. Retaining as many of them as possible must be the number one goal, he says, if we are not to be left with hollowed-out city centres.
The marketing manager of fashion, jewellery and giftware retailer Carraig Donn, Maeve McCormack, says the chain of 42 stores has seen differing impacts on sales, depending on location.
"We've a very strong regional presence in places like Thurles and Dungarvan. Those shopping centres have actually seen a lift. People are taking up the 'shop local, shop Irish' message and that is really encouraging," she said. "But it's all extremely fluid. It's still evolving. Week on week we're meeting a different set of circumstances."
A quarter of Carraig Donn's stores are in city locations in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick. By contrast with more regional outlets, footfall in city stores like Dublin's Jervis Centre is down. The uptick in regional business does not fill the gap: "It's very challenging. It certainly is not the case that Thurles offsets Jervis."
Nevertheless, the company is to push on with the opening of a new outlet in Galway city's newly expanded Knocknacarra retail park.
"These are uncertain and challenging times for anyone thinking about any type of expansion, so this is an illustration of our commitment to these types of stores," says McCormack.
But how long the average retail business can survive current circumstances is impossible to say, she says. "We're around since 1965. It's a family-run business from the west of Ireland and we've been through recession before. We're battle-hardened and good at changing direction and being flexible, whatever the industry throws at us. It has always been a tough industry," she says.
The head of research at property consultant CBRE Ireland, Marie Hunt, believes fundamental shifts have started. There will be pain but plenty of opportunity too, she says: "There's going to be quite a bit of churn on the high street. We're already seeing vacant units, good news of course for new entrants who heretofore couldn't afford or find a vacant slot.
"I think if you walk down Grafton Street in five years' time, you'll see a very different dynamic. Names we're familiar with now will have disappeared, replaced with names we haven't heard of yet. For some, I'm afraid it's adapt or die.
Landlords will need to play their part, she says: "There was a feeling landlords had to show forbearance for the next couple of months. It's now looking like landlords are going to have to have forbearance for much longer. Banks too, because they often call the shots."
Hunt believes there could be an evolution in this country towards turnover-based rents. Many major UK landlords are already moving to such a system in London, for example. And for some retailers, stores are also serving a different purpose.
"Retail has gone through a structural shift whereby retailers really needed to have that omni-channel presence of the website working side-by-side with the physical store," she says. "You would have had retailers that came into Ireland a couple of years ago with aspirations of 20 or 30 stores suddenly saying maybe they just need a store in Grafton Street and Dundrum, meaning more lettings to food and beverage offerings."
All of this means that, when it comes to retail, work on the next development plan for Dublin, which begins next year, will require imagination and new thinking. It may also require reform of the planning system to allow flexibility for developers and investors to turn empty retail stock into residential or commercial developments.
So, after the world has got to grips with Covid, what will our city centres look like?
"There'll be a trend towards local community shopping," says Duncan Graham. "I can already see it in places like Blackrock and Monkstown where I live. The fish shop, the butcher, the local greengrocer have had a significant bounce. That's only going to continue. What does that mean for city centres like Dublin? Frankly, it means that we're going to see more shutters coming down."
But he is confident high street shopping can fight back and reinvent itself. "I still think there'll be the attraction of going into town when restaurants, bars and theatres are back open. There will be less people and that may mean demand to pedestrianise more streets, for example. The revival could be based around making a visit to a town centre a pleasant experience."
The Government will hope that its July stimulus package does enough to give the economy the initial boost it requires to lift it out of the lockdown doldrums. Whether or not it contains enough to put the wind back in the sails of the crucial retail sector remains to be seen. The elements of the stimulus package that will help retail are:
A further €8m for retailers to develop their online presence.
Sunday Indo Business