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Retail sector in Ireland

Retail sector in Ireland

The retail sector is the largest private sector employer in the country and is an important part of the domestic economy. Retail is classified under Eurostat G47 NACE Classification.  

Featured: Deposit Return Scheme

The Deposit Return Scheme for plastic bottles and aluminium cans is live. From 1 February 2024, plastic bottles and aluminium cans with the Re-turn logo can be returned to any shop that takes returns, not just to the shop where the items were bought. Deposit Return Scheme Ireland CGL (trading as Re-turn) will operate the scheme.

Supports from Re-turn are in place for small businesses in the form of reduced or waived fees, financial assistance and exemptions.

All retailers will receive a handling fee for each container they take back. Handling fees are intended to offset the cost of collection infrastructure, retail floor space, staff costs and security.

In addition to handling fees, several other supports are in place from Re-turn to assist small retailers, including exemptions from take-back services and financial support for the installation of Reverse Vending Machines.

Details of supports for retailers, as well as other useful information to help retailers prepare for the scheme are available at Retailers - Re-turn. Also available is a presentation from Re-turn’s take back exemptions webinar (PDF) held on 24 August 2023.

Retail Forum

The Retail Forum was established in June 2014. The purpose of the forum is to allow key issues of relevance to the retail sector to be discussed, with a view to identifying practical actions which could be taken by government, or by industry itself, to support the sector with particular emphasis on achieving sustainable jobs growth in the sector.  

The forum meets on a quarterly basis. Dates for Retail Forum meetings in 2024: 27 March, 19 June, 18 September and 4 December (subject to change)

View minutes of meetings of the Retail Forum held since June 2014 and recent presentations made at Retail Forum meetings

Membership of the Retail Forum includes retail representative bodies, retailers, the City and County Managers Association and government departments.

For the purposes of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015, the Retail Forum is obliged to comply with the Transparency Code as it is exempted from registering on the Lobbying Register. This also applies to any working group set up by the forum. The Retail Forum Terms of Reference outlines how the forum operates. See also, the Retail Forum's Privacy Notice

For queries in relation to the Retail Forum please contact retail@enterprise.gov.ie. 

Retail Forum Working Groups 

Three working groups were convened in 2022 to drive actions in the Retail Forum’s Work Programme:

  1. Future of Retail – Town Centre First/Night-time Economy

    Focus is to support relevant policy implementation of the Town Centre First Policy and the Report of the Night-Time Economy Task Force. 
    Dates for Town Centre First/Night-time Economy Working Group meetings in 2024: 7 March, 5 June, 4 September and 20 November (subject to change)

  2. Future of Retail – Digitalisation and Skills

    Focus on driving digitalisation of the sector and working to support skills development. 
    Dates for Digitalisation and Skills Working Group meetings in 2024: 6 March, 5 June, 4 September and 20 November (subject to change)

  3. Future of Retail – Green Transition

    Focus on driving best practice sustainability in the retail sector. 
    Dates for Green Transition Working Group meetings in 2024: 6 March, 5 June, 4 September and 20 November (subject to change)

The Retail Forum Working Groups Terms of Reference outlines how they operate.  

Membership of the working groups comprises of Retail Forum members and additional external practitioners who have a particular expertise or interest in an area under discussion. 

The working groups are chaired by officials from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Secretariat is provided by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.


Legislation relevant to the retail sector

Retail sector resources 

Tailored guidance for retailers about available government schemes and supports: 

Energy and sustainability: government schemes and resources for retailers

Energy Efficiency Guide for Retailers - SEAI (PDF, 24MB)

Health and safety in retail - HSA

Simple safety in retailing - HSA

HSA retail publications

Guidelines for businesses on price reduction announcement obligations - CCPC

Education and training courses for retail

Leading the Way

Skills for Better Business

Apprenticeship in Retail Supervision (Employer Information) - Retail Ireland Skillnet

European Year of Skills - European Union

Government consultations relevant to the retail sector

Public consultation on the Copyright Directive in the Digital Single Market (DSM) on the protection of press publications concerning online uses

NSAI public consultation for the draft IS 10101:2020/prA1:202x, Amendment to The National Rules for Electrical Installations

Calls from the European Chemicals Agency

Retail sector study

The Future of the Irish Retail Sector report, commissioned by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and carried out by KPMG Future Analytics, was completed in October 2022. The report sets out 14 recommendations which are now part of the Retail Forum’s Work Programme.

Retail statistics

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment: DETE Data Dashboard

European Commission: Retail Restrictiveness Indicator

Central Statistics Office (CSO):

Retail Sales Index

Retail Sales Generated Online

Ireland's Retail Economy

Business Demography

Related information

Local Enterprise Office

Enterprise Ireland

Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI)

Workplace Relations Commission

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission 

Online Retail Scheme

Responsible Business

Europe fit for the Digital Age: New online rules for businesses

Ireland in the Digital Economy and Society Index

FAQ – EU Regulation 2023/1115 on certain commodities and products associated with deforestation and forest degradation and repealing Regulation (EU) No 995/2010

White Paper on Enterprise 2022-2030

Bills and Acts of the Oireachtas

An Garda Síochána commences Operation Táirge



Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information/material contained on the Retail sector in Ireland webpage, the department, its servants or agents assume no responsibility for and give no guarantees, undertakings or warranties concerning the accuracy, completeness or up to date nature of the information provided in the website and does not accept any liability whatsoever arising from any errors or omissions.

The webpage sometimes links to external sites over which the department has no control and accepts no responsibility.

No document on the site is a legal interpretation and should not be seen as such. If you need professional or legal advice you should consult a suitably qualified person.