Retail Ireland said there is “anecdotal evidence” from around the country the lack of bus services were impacting on trade.
And in Cork City, the owner of a popular cafe has claimed if the dispute was affecting Dublin, it would already have been resolved.
Richard Jacob of Idaho cafe on Caroline St in the city centre posted photographs on Twitter in recent days, taken at regular intervals, to highlight what he said was the impact of the bus strike.
One tweet that has been widely circulated captures near-empty nearby streets and the words: “Morning Noon Night Are any politicians seeing what is happening outside of Dublin? This is what the #busstrike is doing to Cork”
The images were taken at 8am, 1.30pm, and 4.30pm on Tuesday and Mr Jacob said: “The footfall is absolutely colossally reduced.”
He said a visit to any of the large department stores nearby over recent days would have shown more staff than customers, with shoppers and older people among those most likely to use the bus service to enter the city.
“There is no doubt if this was in Dublin it would have been resolved by now,” he said, adding many representative bodies appeared to be quiet on the issue, possibly because of a fear of saying something that could be construed as “union-bashing”, even though any criticism was as likely to be directed at Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, for failing to bring the dispute to an end.
Thomas Burke, director with Retail Ireland, said of the dispute: “It is a deterrent for people to travel and shop.
“I think this will have a bigger impact in the regions and in regional cities. In and around regional towns and cities they are heavily reliant on Bus Éireann — that is where we are going to see the most acute impact.”
Small Firms Association director Patricia Callan, said: “A well-functioning transport infrastructure is essential to the workings of a modern economy.
"However, the entire country cannot be held to ransom by a select group of workers. This dispute needs to be settled by Bus Éireann and its workers as soon as possible.”
She claimed work practices needed to change and cost efficiencies gained at the company and added: “The taxpayer cannot be expected nor would it be legal, for Government, to bail out the company. Talks should resume as soon as possible under the auspices of the WRC.”