Friday 19 October 2018

Business losses will top €500m - but online retailers get sales surge

Storm Emma reaches Sandycove. Photo: Douglas O’Connor
Storm Emma reaches Sandycove. Photo: Douglas O’Connor
Roxy Conway enjoys the snow in Rathcoole, Co Dublin

Anne-Marie Walsh

The loss to business is set to top €500m following days of snowstorms.

The crippling weather has led to an almost total shutdown as an estimated 80pc to 90pc of firms closed their doors.

Director of the Small Firms Association, Sven Spollen-Behrens, said the cost will escalate if the storm fails to subside over the weekend.

He said some service industries have not suffered as badly, as workers could work remotely.

But others, including restaurants, hotels and healthcare firms, have been badly hit.

"Whilst it is very difficult at this stage to say what the exact economic impact of the current weather phenomenon is, the loss of business on top of additional costs is likely to be higher than €500m."

He said his members have been better prepared this time as many were "caught out" during Storm Ophelia.

"However, especially our members from the retail, hospitality, transportation and manufacturing sectors, are hugely concerned about the loss of revenue and the additional pressure this puts on their businesses," he said.

"The financial damage to the economy and small business is likely to be in the high millions with commercial activities either disrupted or businesses being forced to close for at least two and a half days. It will be next to impossible to recuperate these losses."

He said the extreme weather phenomenon has highlighted the road and public transport infrastructure's vulnerability to bad weather, and the fact poor broadband cover means working from home is not a realistic option outside bigger urban areas.

A spokesperson for An Post said that it expected bumper deliveries due to a shopping surge as the public took advantage of having unexpected time off work.

Strong sales are expected over the weekend as retailers try to recoup lost revenue due to store closures with special online offers.

"We are seeing high volumes of sales from Irish and international retailers translating into packet and parcel volumes on our data systems," said Garrett Bridgeman, An Post managing director of mails and parcels.

"Full-scale deliveries will resume as soon as the road conditions allow."

Irish online fashion retailer Vavavoom.com also said that the current weather crisis has been very good for business.

Irish Independent

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