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Future of Retail & Ecommerce Q3 2023

Resilience of the retailers: how Ireland overcame the challenges of Covid-19 and Brexit

Hand touching to virtual info graphics with trolley cart icons , Technology online shopping business concept.
Hand touching to virtual info graphics with trolley cart icons , Technology online shopping business concept.
iStock / Getty Images Plus / Dilok Klaisataporn

Neale Richmond TD

Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail

Faced with Brexit, the pandemic, supply chain issues and an energy crisis, Ireland’s retailers have proven their resilience over the past several years.


It is a testament to the strength of Ireland’s retailers that the sector continues to employ over 234,000 people in every corner of the country. Now, facing digitalisation and decarbonisation, the sector is well-equipped to take on the challenges.  

Ireland retailers face Brexit and Covid-19 

Though it was far from easy, the preparations the retail sector made for Brexit many years ago paid off in dividends. Many retailers began to source more goods locally and from the EU, which then placed them in a position to mitigate the impacts of the supply chain challenges to come.  

The pandemic was a huge challenge for the sector. During lockdowns and restrictions, it was the retail sector and its workers that kept food on our supermarket shelves and medicine in our pharmacies. While the majority of us stayed home, retail workers put themselves at risk to keep the country going, and this sacrifice will not be forgotten. 

Digital transition in Ireland retail 

Many people turned to online shopping during the pandemic; going digital is now vital for Irish retailers. While nothing will replace physical stores, an online presence can complement them. Think of the tourist who buys an item while on holiday; they can then continue to order from this store and build a relationship with them from afar, for example. Local Enterprise Office or Enterprise Ireland offer support to help retailers through this transition.  

Customers are increasingly conscious
of the environmental impact of where
they spend their money.

Environmental sustainability challenges 

Customers are increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of where they spend their money. To ensure the retail sector continues to thrive, it must meet its environmental responsibilities. Like all other sectors, the retail sector is aware that it needs to invest in sustainability and be more environmentally conscious. Support is also available to assist retailers in developing environmental efficiency and improving sustainability. 

Growth in the retail sector 

The future of any sector is reliant on its talent, and retail is no exception. Opportunities for staff upskilling are crucial. Retail apprenticeships are great for those already in, or even new, to the sector — to gain the necessary skills and climb up the retail ranks. 

During recent years, the resilience of the sector has set the groundwork for a bright future, and we look forward to working with retailers in continuing to deliver this.  

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