Irish Examiner View: Debenhams close Irish stores - Economic plan is now urgent

It is increasingly difficult to match the pandemic’s impact with language that has real, already-grasped meaning.
Irish Examiner View: Debenhams close Irish stores - Economic plan is now urgent

It is increasingly difficult to match the pandemic’s impact with language that has real, already-grasped meaning.

The IMF has warned it will cause the worst fallout since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Labour organisations have warned that hundreds of millions of jobs may be lost.

The Irish unemployment rate has already jumped to 16.5%, higher than at the peak of the financial crisis.

CSO data also shows the youngest have been hardest hit — again — with more than a third of those aged 15 to 25 out of work. Those grinding figures are also expressed in a different way, but one that also grabs attention.

In the first few days of this month, only 90 new cars were registered. This represents a 94% drop, while used imports — only 24 — recorded a 98% fall.

Long before the pandemic arrived, high street retailers were trying to withstand the ever-increasing challenge of online shopping, which has changed retailing and our town and city centres dramatically.

That change may not be the main reason for yesterday’s announcement that chain store Debenhams is to close its Irish outlets and liquidate the Irish arm of its business. Stores already closed because of Covid-19 will not reopen. Around 2,000 jobs have been lost.

Earlier this week, EU ministers met to try to agree an economic strategy to avert catastrophe, but failed to do so.

They must act quickly, as the tsunami is on its way. For Debenhams’ Irish workers it, sadly, arrived today.

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