Retailers across Ireland reported a fall in sales over the bank holiday weekend due to the Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann strike last Friday and Saturday.

The two-day strike combined with the weekend’s poor weather led to a decreased foot fall – a measure of how many people are on the streets – of between 20-22 percent on Saturday, according to Retail Excellence Ireland deputy chief executive Sean Murphy. In urban areas this figure rose to around 30 percent while some individual retailers have reported that their sales fell over 50 percent.

One RTÉ Radio’s Marian Finucane programme a Spar manager on O’Connell Street said business was “as bad as St Stephen’s Day”. Another retailer said the foot fall, which would typically be quite high on a bank holiday weekend, was closer to “a bad Monday morning.”

The director of Retail Ireland, Thomas Burke, claimed its members experienced a double digit decline in turnover across Friday and Saturday. Traditionally, the May bank holiday weekend is one of the busiest times of year. Burke explained that one city centre based retailer who largely depended on public transport suffered a drop in trade of around 30 percent on each day.

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprise Association (ISME) CEO Mark Fielding warned against the damage further industrial action by Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann worked could do. “Irish SMEs are only beginning to recover from a disastrous recession. They cannot afford the considerable cost in lost man-hours, trade, and productivity, due to the withdrawal of necessary social and commercial services,” he said.

Further action is planned, with bus drivers planning a stoppage for two days on May 15th and 16th  and a three-day strike beginning on May 29th.

The two unions involved in the strike (NBRU and SIPTU) have called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton to intervene, stating that political leadership was now needed to resolve the issue.