While overall retail sales in Ireland fell by 30% during the lockdown, online sales grew by over 200%. This is the fastest expansion rate ever recorded by the eCommerce sector in Ireland.
The 2020 Q1 and Q2 reports from Retail Excellence show that despite a surge in grocery and off-licence sales, overall retail sales were decimated by the lockdown.
Footwear, ladies’ fashions and menswear sales all fell by over 70% during Q2.
“The retail industry has seen the sharpest decline in sales in living memory with all non-essential retail closed across the state for nearly three months,” says Duncan Graham, managing director, Retail Excellence.
“Clothing and footwear stores and coffee shops were among the worst affected with sales down over 70%. The demand for groceries surged in March as people responded to the start of the lockdown period by ‘panic buying’ and the sector continued to trade strongly through Q2 as restaurants remained closed.”
However, shopping habits changed dramatically during the lockdown period and online shopping grew by 200% as ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers expanded their digital offerings.
Graham says the July stimulus is broadly welcomed by retailers with more grants available to help digitise the Irish retail industry, but more support will be needed. The application process for the Online Trading Voucher, for example, should be made easier. Currently, it is complex, cumbersome, frustrating and time-consuming.
If you require grant money to set up an online shop, read more here and talk to your Local Enterprise Office.
A restart grant
An expansion of the existing ‘Restart Grant’ started in May is also welcome as a useful method of getting cash back into retail businesses. The maximum grant, which is linked to 2019 commercial rates, has been increased to €25,000 and the minimum doubled to €4,000. Thankfully, the grants are simple to apply for and processed quickly.
With limited exceptions, all businesses will also be granted a waiver of commercial rates for the six months to the end of September 2020.
Read more here.
Q1 report by Grant Thornton.
Q2 report by Grant Thornton.