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Enterprise Policy

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 15 September 2021

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Questions (78)

Mick Barry


78. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the measures he is taking to safeguard jobs in the retail sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43774/21]

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Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

I am keenly aware of the critical role that the retail sector plays in contributing to the Irish economy. 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.    

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 all businesses continue to develop their resilience in the face of these and future challenges.   

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 retail to increase their digital presence and boost online sales allowing them to target new and existing customers and shoppers in the online space.  

Having an evidence-based foundation for ongoing engagement with retail sector stakeholders is important and in this regard my Department has commenced a major review of the retail sector to identify and analyse the factors impacting on retailers and their employees, and the likely future trends, opportunities and challenges facing the retail sector.  This review will identify retail sector policy options for consideration by my Department, other relevant Departments for Government.  This review is expected to be completed by the end of this year.   

The Study will also support the work of the Retail Forum, which I chair and will support the ongoing engagement with the representative bodies of the workers and businesses in the retail sector.   

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.