Dublin businesses "really worried" about Saturday's bus strike

Dublin Town's Richard Guiney is concerned that job losses and closures are on the way if the Dublin Bus situation isn't resolved...

Dublin businesses "really worried" about Saturday's bus strike

File photo: RollingNews.ie

Dublin Town, the organisation that represents over 2,500 businesses in the capital, has voiced its concerns over the negative impact of the Dublin Bus drivers strike action this Saturday in particular.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, the group's chief executive Richard Guiney explained how retailers have already felt a significant pinch from the strikes thus far as consumers opt to stay away from the city centre.

"The first week, we were probably 15% behind in footfall in terms of where we wanted to be or where we'd expect to be," he said.

"And in a survey of our members, the most typical figure was down 20-25%.

"Last weekend, with things like Culture Night, the effects weren't as significant. But we found with the Luas strike, for example, that the longer it goes on, the more people are less inclined to find the alternative modes of transport."

Looking ahead to a Saturday trading without a public bus service, Guiney said he was worried.

"Certainly when we look at the numbers on Monday from this weekend, I'm expecting that we will see those figures of 15-20%.

"Because roughly two out of every five people that come into the city use the bus and our experience is we'll lose roughly half of those."

With no resolution in sight between unions and Dublin Bus and 13 more days of action scheduled across this month and next, Guiney sees "nervous retailers" in the run-up to Christmas.

"The first weekend, second weekend, people find alternatives. The third weekend, they decide to stay home. So I'm really worried about this weekend. I think when we look at the numbers... We will be down and we will be down a significant amount."

The uncertainty surrounding how long the stalemate will last is already affecting decision-making.

"I know from speaking to a number of retailers that they're seriously putting on hold now their Christmas recruitment.

"So the temporary jobs that happen around the Christmas time may not happen, depending on what transpires from the strike."

The feared scenario of a "winter of discontent" of triple strike action involving not only Dublin Bus but also Bus Eireann and Irish Rail could be even more grave for businesses.

"Roughly half of people will find alternatives, [so] if those alternatives are gone as well obviously that is very damaging," Guiney said.  

"When you take the city centre, roughly one-fifth of our customers come in by car, compared to say three-quarters that would go to Dundrum. The concern for our city centre retailers is that their customers will just get into their cars and go to the out-of-town shopping centres.

"If this continues and we do have, as you describe it, a 'winter of discontent', then I think we could see job losses and we could see closures within the city centre."