Retail lurched in 2021 from winter lockdown to summer boom

Reviving city centre retail and labour shortage will be big challenges for year ahead

The re-emergence of restrictions on hospitality is likely to push the grocery sector back into growth in early 2022. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The re-emergence of restrictions on hospitality is likely to push the grocery sector back into growth in early 2022. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

As 2021 drew to a close, a large part of the retail sector found themselves better positioned than 12 months previously. As last January dawned, grocers were counting the spoils of record Christmas revenues. But so-called “non-essential” retailers (most shops apart from food stores, chemists and those selling household and work items) were forced into full lockdown at 6pm on New Year’s Eve.

It would last the first 4½ months of 2021: part of the longest economic shutdown to combat Covid-19 anywhere in Europe. Things could hardly have been worse as shops, unable to conclude rent deals with their landlords, clocked up massive bills, with only State supports to keep them afloat.

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