‘Landmark day’ for retailers as shops reopen after more than four-month lockdown

Optimism this reopening different as vaccine rollout gives hope against further closures

Members of the public are being urged to shop local and adhere to public health guidelines including mask wearing mandates and social distancing measures as they return to physical shops for the first time in over 4 and a half months.

 

Retailers say Monday is a “landmark day” with Covid-19 restrictions being lifted across their sector and optimism growing that another lockdown will be unnecessary as the Covid-19 vaccination rollout gathers pace.

Members of the public are being urged to shop local and adhere to public health guidelines including mask wearing mandates and social distancing measures as they return to physical shops for the first time in over 4 and a half months.

Today is a “landmark day for the retail industry in Ireland and fantastic news for 280,000 retail employees around the country,” said managing director of Retail Excellence Duncan Graham.

“We eased back into trading with click and collect services and appointment-only shopping last week, and now retailers get the opportunity to fully welcome shoppers back into their stores after a long, hard four and a half months of the latest lockdown.”

He suggested that the easing of restrictions on this occasion would be different to those that have happened before.

“Thankfully, our vaccination rollout is picking up pace and we have had strong assurances from the Government that we are not going backwards. Finally, this means that retailers can plan for the weeks and months ahead with the sort of confidence that has been missing for over a year.”

He said that shoppers would be confident that retailers are “continuing to uphold the highest standards of safety for everyone in their stores” and he urged people to be “patient when visiting shops once again”.

Mr Duncan said retailers were prepared and fully stocked for the full reopening “and cannot wait to get trading properly once again”.

However he added that the sector would “undoubtedly need major financial support from the Government in the months ahead, but for now businesses are relieved to begin trading once more without restrictions.”

Optimism

Minister of State with responsibility for the retail sector Damien English paid tribute to the resilience and patience of business owners and workers and urged consumers to “shop local and to support their local retailers”.

He called on people to adhere to public health guidelines even if they have been vaccinated.

“I am sure that the public are keen to support our retailers as they begin to trade again after a really tough few months. We must remain vigilant in the fight against Covid. Public health and safety must always be paramount but with caution and by working together we can once again enjoy the old normality,” he said.

He also noted that while retail was reopening other businesses including restaurants, pubs, and play centres remained closed. “I think if we all play our part and behave responsibly, we will ensure that society can open in full, and most importantly safely, before too long,” Mr English said.

Meanwhile, research from marketing and communications company Core published on Monday , suggests that the vaccine roll-out has significantly influenced levels of optimism amongst Irish consumers.

According to the survey 72 per cent of people who have received at least one dose of a vaccine are optimistic, higher than the general population.

And for the first time in almost a year, less than half the population are very concerned or extremely concerned about Covid-19 with 41 per cent of adults still very or extremely concerned about the illness, down from 71 per cent in January.

When asked about spending patterns, the majority of the population plan to spend the same or more on travel, restaurants and clothing/footwear. While this illustrates that people are looking forward to experiences and socialising away from their home, online shopping with delivery will continue.

The survey suggests that 39 per cent of people will continue to buy clothing/footwear online while a similar percentage will continue to buy electronics online.

Having saved more during the pandemic, many will be conscious of spending, with 53 per cent saying they plan to save the same amount that they have during the pandemic and specifically 39 per cent of young adults say they plan to save more in the future.