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Restaurant closures since January to cost economy €288m

The Irish economy will lose up to €288m annually as a result of the closure of more than 200 restaurants, cafes and other food-led businesses so far this year, a new report claims.

The analysis estimates that every time such a firm here shuts its doors for good, it results in the State losing out on a total of up to €1.36m in value each year and 22 people losing their jobs on average.

The report, which was commissioned by the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) and completed by economist Jim Power, says each closure results in €576,554 in gross wages being lost, as well as €115,310 in payroll taxes to the Exchequer.

A further €105,000 in VAT receipts are also lost each year it claims along with €11,874 in commercial rates to local authorities and €4,583 in water charge receipts.

While if the workers laid off had to go on social welfare payments, the annual cost would work out at around €440,000.

The RAI says that so far in 2024, a total of 212 restaurants, cafes and other food-led businesses have closed down, with a cumulative annual cost to the economy of up to €288m.

“For the first time, this new report lays out the stark economic reality of how damaging food-led hospitality closures are to the State and the economy,” said Adrian Cummins, CEO of the RAI.

“The assumption among civil servants and in certain other quarters that where one restaurant closes down, another will shortly open is unfounded – particularly in parts of the country outside of Dublin.”

“When a local restaurant or café closes and its staff are laid off, it is not a simple case of them finding another good job nearby or the business reopening under new ownership.”

The RAI and other small business groups have claimed that a raft of recent Government policy changes in the area of labour rights have heaped additional costs on their members.

It wants to see a return of the 9% VAT rate, but for food-related businesses only, which the Department of Finance has said will cost €545m a year.

The RAI claims that if 400 restaurants eventually close, the State will begin losing more money than it would have cost it to lower the VAT rate.

“This report makes it clear that the question for the Government is now not whether it can afford to return the 9% VAT rate or not, but how it can possibly afford not to,” Mr Power said.

“If the Government waits until October’s Budget to take meaningful action to save Ireland’s local, independent restaurants and cafés – as it appears it currently plans on doing – it will result in substantial losses for the State, while communities will be deprived of cherished social outlets.”

Recent data has pointed to an increase in the numbers of hospitality related businesses that have become insolvent in the first three months of the year.

However, other sectors of the economy are also seeing a rise in closures too, amid rising costs, elevated interest rates and growing pressure to repay warehoused tax debt.

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