Thursday, 3 June 2021
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
As this is a duplicate question from Deputy Louise O'Reilly today, I am including below the answer provided by my colleague Minister Damien English to the same question:
The past year has been a difficult year for most businesses, including those in the Irish retail sector. The impact of both the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit have posed significant challenges for businesses and it is vital that businesses continue to develop their resilience in the face of these and future challenges.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank businesses and their customers for their continued support of the national effort through this unprecedented public health crisis.
As the largest private sector employer, and a key element in providing for the needs of society and indeed other sectors of the economy, it is vital that retail continues to develop capability and remains competitive.
It is important that there is a strong, diverse, and balanced retail business presence across the country which sustains the local and domestic economy and contributes to the export economy, both online and offline.
A long-term goal for the overall retail sector prior to the pandemic was to scale up online offerings to complement physical outlets.
This goal has been accelerated due to the pandemic, and I want to see this digital development of the sector continue. Indeed, my Department has provided specific funding though the COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme and the Trading Online Vouchers Scheme to assist the retail sector in their efforts.
For many retailers, developing their digital capability and enhancing their physical retail offering with a strong online presence will support them to become more resilient.
I am determined to support that ambition and assist our businesses to increase their digital presence and boost online sales allowing them to target new and existing customers and shoppers in the online space.
It also provides consumers with more opportunities to support local businesses in their community, even when shopping online.
I want the retail sector to continue to develop and to become one of our most innovative and resilient sectors, so that those working in retail can be confident about building a long term career in retail.
As Minister, I will support this by continuing to work collaboratively with the sector and to address issues directly affecting the retail sector.
My Department is undertaking a Retail Sector Study to look at the future of the Retail Sector. The Study, to be prepared with external experts and stakeholders from the retail sector, will identify and analyse the factors impacting on retailers and their employees, and the likely future trends, opportunities and challenges facing the retail sector.
The Study will provide an evidence-based foundation for ongoing engagement with retail sector stakeholders and will identify retail sector policy options for consideration by my Department, working with the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research and Science and ultimately by Government, for Government.
The Study will also support the work of the Retail Forum, which I Chair, and will support the ongoing engagement that I and my officials have with the representative bodies of the workers and businesses in the retail sector.