Dublin city footfall plummets due to coronavirus

Businesses call for consumers to support Irish online outlets

A quiet Grafton Street in Dublin city centre  due to  Covid-19. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

A quiet Grafton Street in Dublin city centre due to Covid-19. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Dublin business organisations are urging consumers to buy from Irish online stores following a dramatic decrease in footfall in the city over the last week amid Coronavirus concerns.

Footfall rates in Dublin city centre have dropped by almost 66 per cent, according to research by business organisation Dublin Town.

The number of people on the city’s streets plummeted progressively as the week went on and businesses shut their doors, with footfall down 37.5 per cent by Monday, March 16th, and 77 per cent by Saturday, March 21st.

On St Patrick’s Day the footfall rate in the city was down almost 72 per cent on the level recorded on St Patrick’s Day in 2019.

The research showed the streets with a high concentration of hospitality businesses were most affected. South William Street recorded a reduction of 85 per cent, while Grafton Street saw a reduction of 75 per cent in its footfall. This translates as approximately 200,000 fewer people visiting the city centre each day, the organisation said.

“This is an unprecedented event, starkly illustrated by the dramatic decline in city centre footfall. St. Patrick’s week is traditionally the beginning of the tourist season and one where it’s all hands on deck for many in the hospitality sector. However, this year many businesses within the industry had their doors closed,” said Dublin Town chief executive Richard Guiney.

“Many of our members are small, family-owned independent retailers, restaurants and bars. Right now their ability to get through this is dependent on their cash reserves and personal savings, but few have sufficient reserves to stay afloat for the prolonged period of several months that this crisis may last for.”

Mr Guiney said a large number of the city’s “customer facing” businesses had chosen to close their doors in the interests of the health and welfare of both customers and staff.

He said others providing “essential retail” such as supermarkets and pharmacies, as well as restaurant preparing hot meals for takeaway and delivery, were continuing to operate while exercising responsible social distancing. However, the majority of Dublin Town’s 35,000 retail and hospitality workers have already been temporarily laid off or were facing a very uncertain future.

“The current emergency is first and foremost a health crisis, and preserving life has to take precedence over all other considerations. However, we must also do everything in our power to ensure that the economy is ready to rebound rapidly once it is safe to do so.

“Central to this is assisting employers to retain their skilled and talented workforce. This will require innovative schemes similar to some of those developed in other jurisdictions, where employers and the state combine to provide a living wage for those forced out of work.”

He asked that the public continue to support city businesses online were possible.

Some comfort

Dublin Chamber of Commerce said online shopping was providing “some comfort” for those retailers who have had to close their doors but who have a web store.

“Footfall and trade levels could probably best be described as Sunday morning levels. A large number of shops are obviously closed. Consumers seem to be focused on buying essentials and turning to online for anything else,” said Dublin Chamber head of communications Graeme McQueen.

“Dublin Chamber is encouraging Irish shoppers to support local businesses at this time by looking to buy online from Irish websites. This will help keep Irish firms going and also protect jobs.”