Retail Excellence has said the process of winding down the Pandemic Unemployment Payment needs to be speeded up, in order to help address acute shortages in staff being felt in the retail and other sectors.
Chief executive Duncan Graham told RTE News the situation has become very serious since the start of the easing of restrictions.
“If you talk to recruiters around town, they’ll tell you there is an enormous shortage, they have a huge number of vacancies, across all levels in fact – in retail particularly – and it has been very very difficult to fill those,” he said.
Mr Graham said a lot of people left the industry during the height of the Covid crisis, as non-essential retail was closed during nine of the last 18 months.
He added that many migrant workers chose to return home during the pandemic and have not returned.
With over 17,000 retail workers still claiming the PUP, Mr Graham said the feeling among retailers is that the wind down, not due to be completed until February, should happen faster.
“We really need these people back into work prior to the Christmas peak,” he claimed.
“I think what we are now seeing is stores looking and seeing are they going to be able to trade some of the hours that they would normally do over the Christmas period, because simply they don’t have the people,” he said.