Business group DublinTown says footfall in Dublin city centre has collapsed as people work from home and exercise social distancing.
Footfall within the area declined by 80.3% during the week ended 29th March 2020. The downward trend in footfall accelerated as the week progressed.
Footfall was down by 71.2% on Monday 23rd March and by Sunday 29th, following the Taoiseach’s announcement of further restrictions, it was down by 90%.
DublinTown anticipates that footfall in the city centre area will be down by between 87 and 92% for the remainder of the current crisis.
Streets with grocery shops and pharmacies showed the highest levels of footfall. The decline on Talbot Street was 51% and on Moore Street it was 62%.
This information compares to a decline of 93% on South William Street and 87% on Grafton Street.
The decline on Henry / Mary Street, which hosts two shopping centres with grocery and pharmacy outlets, was 78%.
Speaking about the decline in the figures, and the current situation in the city, CEO of DublinTown, Richard Guiney, said: “DublinTown supports the principle of keeping employees on the books of their employer. Maintaining employment will clearly provide some reassurance for employees at this difficult and uncertain time, while it will also be crucial in enabling the economy to bounce back when the crisis has passed. It will be important for people to return to work as soon as it is safe to do so. It will also be important to ensure sufficient consumer confidence to facilitate the recommencement of consumer spending. This confidence will be greatly assisted where people remain in employment. The flow of cash through the economy will be vital in providing cashflow to sustain business and also to create tax revenue for the state which will have its own budgetary considerations. The COVID- 19 Wage Subsidy Scheme is an excellent way to maintain employees on the books.”
Richard Guiney continued: “However, feedback provided to DublinTown is that many employers are nervous of the scheme. This nervousness centres on a declaration that they are unable to pay normal wages and normal outgoings, which Insolvency experts have noted is akin to a declaration of insolvency. The declaration should be amended so that employers declare that their turnover has reduced by 25% or more due to the COVID-19 crisis and without support they would be required to lay off staff or make them redundant. Similarly, within the guidance notes issued by Revenue, employers are advised to maintain correspondence with trade unions and banks, together with details of capital projects forgone due to their impacts of the crisis. Many small, family owned independent traders will simply not have such paperwork. The guidance notes should be amended to state that employers meet the essential nature of the scheme in terms of lost trade. Revenue have been forthcoming in providing assurance in private and in media interviews. It makes sense that guidance notes for employers would reflect these assurances and that more employers are encouraged to retain their employees on their books rather than letting them go. Some simple changes in wording could have a profound economic significance and help us all to bounce back more quickly when it is safe to do so.”