The organisation which represents 2,000 retailers in Ireland will outline the challenges facing the industry as a result of the pandemic.

Speaking ahead of the Joint Committee, Duncan Graham, CEO of Retail Excellence said that despite the reopening of non-essential retail on 17 May, businesses are still suffering the effects of their prolonged closure during lockdown.

He said many of the retailers that are still trading, face a “monumental” challenge in terms of meeting their rent obligations.

“The industry needs some form of a rent amnesty in order to pick itself off the ground,” he said.

Retail Excellence is calling for a rent cut of at least 50% for the first four months of the year – when the non-essential retail sector was shut.

“Everyone wants to see a realistic and fair resolution to this looming crisis, and we believe what we have proposed offers that,” Mr Graham said.

“The retail industry accounts for over 10% of the country’s workforce, so we must explore every avenue to avoid wholesale liquidations and a resulting economic catastrophe which no one wants to see happen,” he added.

Retail Excellence will also tell the Joint Committee today that more support is need from the Government for smaller online retailers.

“Online retail supports totalled €11 million last year and they are now set to be more than halved this year to €5 million,” Mr Graham said.

He said this will be a huge blow to smaller businesses who are dependent on more support in order to keep trading.

Mr Graham also said he hoped the restrictions on the hospitality industry would be lifted soon, particularly for coffee shops and cafes, which he said have a strong relationship with the retail industry.