Retail Ireland said retailers opening today were hopeful of a significant summer bounce in trade, with sales over the next month expected to be 40% higher than pre-pandemic times, due to pent up consumer demand.
Based on the experience from last year, Retail Ireland said it expects Irish consumers to spend over €3 billion on debit and credit cards in shops in the next month, €800 million more than over the same period pre-pandemic.
“It has been a long road, but a buzz is finally returning to high streets and shops after months of restrictions. There is a lot of pent-up demand, which should lead to strong sales over the coming weeks. Public health is the absolute priority," said Arnold Dillon, director of Retail Ireland.
"Retailers have been reviewing and updating their public health protocols to ensure a safe experience for customers and staff."
'Sense of Optimism'
Despite the very positive news on reopening, the group said the sector was nevertheless concerned about the longer-term outlook. Government supports for vulnerable businesses must continue.
Dillon noted that the last few months have been incredibly stressful for retail businesses and their staff, but there is a real sense of optimism.
The Ibec group that represents the retail sector, said it doesn’t expect the retail industry to close down again.
Government supports have been a lifeline for many businesses, but challenges remain.
"Debt levels have increased significantly, and many rent disputes remain unresolved. Supporting the experience economy and breathing life back into our towns and cities must be a top priority over the coming weeks and months," he said.
"It is really important that a plan is put in place for getting offices open again,” Dillion added.