Retail is central to the economic & social fabric of the country
The sector directly employs over 300,000 people and supports many thousands more jobs throughout the supply chain, often in small, family-run businesses. Unlike many other sectors, retail jobs are evenly spread across every city, town and village in the country. In every region, it is either the largest or second largest employer, with its share of employment typically ranging from 12% to 15.5%.
However, the positive impact of retail goes far beyond the economic benefits of the jobs it creates. Retail plays a crucial role in developing its people and improving the local communities in which it operates. It contributes to the vibrancy and prosperity of localities, and plays a major role in supporting sport clubs, community groups and charities.
Retail continues to evolve and is transforming how it operates to support environmental sustainability and the circular economy. In addition, the sector is providing much more information to consumers, so they can make smart, informed choices about how they shop, and make the best decisions for themselves and their families.
Covid has changed how we live and work, and it presents big questions as to how we revive and sustain our economy into the future. But it has also brought into clear focus the vital role that the retail sector, and those who work in it, play in our communities and the central role it must play into the future.
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Retail and COVID-19: On the front line
1. Serving our communities
Throughout the pandemic retail has ensured that no one goes without:
- Non-stop supply: Despite intense pressure, retailers have ensured that shelves are keep stocked and supply chains continue to function;
- More delivery options: Delivery options have been expanded so that all customers, especially vulnerable groups, are fully served;
- Improved online services: New online ranges and services have been introduced improving access, choice and availability of goods using technology.
2. Keeping everyone safe
The retail sector has been at the cutting edge of adapting to the new challenges caused by the pandemic, leading the way in overhauling how it operates to keep everyone safe and
building confidence with consumers:
- Social distancing
- Face coverings
- Hand sanitiser
- Plexiglass screens
- Contactless payment
- Hygiene protocols
- Support for vulnerable groups
3. Supporting best practice
The Retail Ireland Skillnet responded to the COVID-19 crisis by developing a range of free online training courses, which over 700 people completed.