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Dublin: 22 °C Monday 25 June, 2018
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'Siberian-esque' Storm Emma cost retailers 'tens of millions' but local stores made good sales

Retail Ireland says the effect of the storm was felt for days after.

Empty shelves as people stocked up on bread ahead of Storm Emma.
Empty shelves as people stocked up on bread ahead of Storm Emma.
Image: RollingNews.ie

RETAILERS HAVE SAID that the “Siberian-esque weather” of Storm Emma cost large and medium-sized stores “tens of millions of Euro” but that convenience stores benefitted when people stocked up.

Retail Ireland has said that “a motoring economy” and “growing disposable income” meant a strong start to the year for Irish stores but that this was “wiped out by Storm Emma”.

The value of sales in March of this year compared to last year was down across a whole range of different sectors of retail.

Fuel sales were down 5.8%, specialised food and drinks stores like butchers and off-licences were down by 6.3%, pharmacies were down by 3.5% and fashion stores were down by 4.4%.

But this trend was bucked by sales in local supermarkets and convenience stories which grew by 4% in March 2018 compared to March 2017.

But this specific increase did not make up for an overall fall in retail sales for the week of Storm Emma.

Ibec’s Retail Ireland has said figures from its sales monitor put the fall across retail during Storm Emma at as high as 30%.

The group’s director Thomas Burke said this decline was due to widespread disruption and closures over four key trading days.

Storm Emma caused severe closures across the country, most prominently between the days of Thursday 1 March and Sunday 4 March.

Writing in Retail Ireland’s quarterly bulletin, Burke said Storm Emma caused problems beyond the days the country was hunkered down, with supply chains affected and uncertainty affecting consumer sentiment.

“It is difficult to put hard numbers around the revenue lost in the retail sector as a result of Storm Emma, but our straw poll of large and medium-sized retailers suggests it easily runs into the tens of millions of euro,” Burke says.

So, what did we learn from all of this? Firstly, we remain unprepared and ill-equipped for the ravages of Siberian-esque weather. Not surprising you may say given the infrequency of such events.

Despite this, Retail Ireland says that local stores should be praised for the “Blitz-like spirit” they showed during the storm to keep their doors open.

“Amid a run on bread, dairy products, soup and other staples, retailers flexed up supply chains in order to continue to keep shelves stocked and communities fuelled to meet the challenges posed by the storm,” Burke said.

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Rónán Duffy

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