What We Do

Retail Sector

The retail sector is an important part of the domestic economy. There is work being done in a number of areas of the Department and in other Government Departments and Agencies to support the recovery of the retail sector and identify potential opportunities for future growth.

The Wholesale and Retail sector accounts for the largest share of employment in the Irish economy, employing almost 280,000 people in Ireland and representing approximately 15% of the workforce. The sector provides employment in every community in the country and is an important part of every locality. In addition, Retail indirectly supports jobs in other areas, such as logistics and distribution.  

The Retail sector experienced a considerable number of job losses over the period 2008-2012 as a result of the economic crisis and the consequent loss in consumer confidence.  The number of people employed in Wholesale and Retail fell from 319,600 in Quarter 1 of 2008, to 268,200 by Quarter 2 of 2012 and another low of 268,200 was recorded in Quarter 1 of 2014.

Recovery in employment figures has been slow and employment levels have fluctuated over the last number of years. However, over the last two and a half years there has been a very gradual overall increase in the numbers employed in the sector with the CSO figures for Quarter 4 2015 showing that 279,400 people were employed in Wholesale and Retail.

Given the reach of the sector, Retail has the potential to create a significant number of jobs across all regions of the country and reduce the numbers on the Live Register with the support of appropriate policy measures from Government.

As part of the Government’s focus on the domestic economy, and through the Action Plans for Jobs, we are working to identify issues which can help the recovery of the retail sector and support growth in jobs.

This includes:

  • Working to improve cost competitiveness for the retail and other sectors

  • Providing supports for doing business and increasing employment, particularly taking people from the Live Register

  • Improving the availability of credit for SMEs, including those in the retail sector

  • The roll out of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme through the Local Enterprise Offices

  • The establishment of an Integrated Licencing Applications System which is being piloted in the retail sector

  • Providing a platform for structured engagement between the retail sector and relevant Government Departments, through the Retail Consultation Forum

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