As the thaw continues in most parts of the country following the heavy snowfall, retailers will be counting the cost of the weather disruption which saw many of them close their doors last Wednesday. Some businesses have still not reopened. 

Lorraine Higgins, deputy chief executive of Retail Excellence Ireland, said different sectors experienced varying degrees of disruption. "The focus on grocery purchases meant that purchases in other sectors were postponed. Huge losses were incurred as a consequence of being closed for five days. It's the loss of sales, employee costs and general clean up costs that they are facing now," she explained.

Ms Higgins said retailers are now trying to encourage footfall back into their stores after several days of closures and some quiet days over the weekend. "Retailers who had an e-commerce capacity were advertising online quite heavily. It's been a difficult time for many sectors so I'd be encouraging people to go out and support retailers with a physical store presence and divert some of the spend from businesses overseas to retailers here."

She pointed out that the big winners from spending in the online sphere are overseas retailers that do not have a physical presence here. An estimated two thirds of spending online by Irish consumers ends up leaving the country. "Many discerning retailers with an online capacity here had sales of 15-20% to encourage people to spend online over the past few days. But that comes at the expense of heavy advertising," she said.

"What this points to is the need for retailers to have 'omnichannel strategies.' They're becoming increasingly important in light of the frequency of recent weather events," Lorraine Higgins concluded. 

MORNING BRIEFS - California based Edwards Lifesciences has announced an €80m investment in the mid West that will see it eventually employ up to 600 people in the manufacture of components for use in heart surgery. 60 will be hired imminently to work at Edwards' initial site, located in the Shannon Free Zone.

*** Alex Gersh has stood down as chief financial officer at Paddy Power Betfair, the company has confirmed. It comes just months after the departure of Breon Corcoran as CEO. The bookmaker - which reports full year results this week - has started the process of finding a new CFO.

*** There was a pullback in consumer sentiment in February, according to the latest index from KBC Bank Ireland and the ESRI. The fall was not a big surprise given that the index hit a 17 year high in January. However, the February reading was still higher than any of the readings for the final three months of last year suggesting that the broad trend in consumer confidence is still positive.