As the thaw continues, retailers around the country are counting the cost of the last week’s weather disruption where heavy snowfall and the Red Weather Alerts saw many forced to close their doors from Wednesday. Some businesses have still not re-opened in the aftermath of the severe weather.

Lorraine Higgins, deputy chief executive of Retail Excellence Ireland, said different sectors experienced varying degrees of disruption. “The focus on grocery purchases meant that purchases in other sectors were postponed. Huge losses were incurred as a consequence of being closed for five days. It’s the loss of sales, employee costs and general clean-up costs that they are facing now,” she explained. Ms Higgins said retailers are now trying to encourage footfall back into their stores after several days of closures and some quiet days over the weekend. “Retailers who had an e-commerce capacity were advertising online quite heavily. It’s been a difficult time for many sectors so I’d be encouraging people to go out and support retailers with a physical store presence and divert some of the spend from businesses overseas to retailers here.”

According to Miss Higgins, the big winners from spending in the online sphere are overseas retailers that do not have a physical presence here, with an estimated two-thirds of spending online by Irish consumers leaving the country. “Many discerning retailers with an online capacity here had sales of 15-20% to encourage people to spend online over the past few days. But that comes at the expense of heavy advertising,” she said. “What this points to is the need for retailers to have ‘omnichannel strategies.’ They’re becoming increasingly important in light of the frequency of recent weather events,” Lorraine Higgins concluded.

The heavy snow presented numerous challenges for grocery stores, which saw huge demand for fresh food in supermarkets over the weekend. Retail group BWG Foods has revealed a Brennan’s Sliced Pan was the number one item in demand over the last few days, followed by litres of milk, 6 packs of eggs, firelighters and wine.