A major intervention on energy costs is needed from the Government in the upcoming budget, representative group Retail Excellence has claimed.

The group is hosting a gathering of 400 retailers in Co Kildare today which will be addressed by Minister Damien English.

Soaring energy costs will top the agenda with many retailers receiving electricity and gas bills in recent weeks that are a multiple of what they were this time last year.

It comes as the Cabinet is expected to discuss plans today on how best to reduce energy costs and ease the burden on businesses and households.

It's understood the plan could include a proposal to reduce the temperatures in offices and buildings this winter, while workers may be asked to congregate on fewer floors where possible.

The proposed measures, it's expected, will mirror those announced in France and Germany.

In Germany, public buildings other than hospitals are to have the temperature lowered to 19 degrees with the heating turned off in some parts of buildings.

Duncan Graham, Managing Director of Retail Excellence, said the unprecedented nature of the energy bills being received by retailers posed a threat to thousands of livelihoods around the country.

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"It is critically important that we see a major intervention from the Government in the forthcoming Budget to ensure businesses can keep the lights on this Christmas," he said, adding that it needed to include a cap on energy costs as a priority.

"Our members don't like uncertainty, and a cap on energy costs would ensure that retailers could at least plan for the coming months with the sure knowledge that they won't be facing even more price hikes," he said.

"If we don’t see an energy price cap, then we will certainly experience a poor trading season for the third Christmas in a row. Many of our members will not be able to sustain that pressure," he concluded.

He also called for a reduction in the VAT rate and added that staffing was still a concern in the retail industry.

Mr Graham told Morning Ireland that retailers had seen their energy bills going up three-fold since the start of the year.

"They're wondering if they'll survive another winter. This is the third successive winter with disruption to the industry," he explained.

He said Retail Excellence had not seen business closures as yet but that they may not be far off.

"Retailers are wondering if they can fully open stores in the run up to Christmas. Normally, they would open at 7am and stay open until 8 or 9 at night. They are now saying they simply cannot operate those hours," he said.

"Businesses that would normally look to offer seasonal employment are going 'it's that or paying the energy bill.' It's not far off a point where it's unsustainable," he explained.

Duncan Graham said retailers were already implementing the kind of measures being discussed by the Cabinet today for public buildings, like turning off the lights when the outlet closes and turning down the heat.

He said towns were going to look a lot darker this Christmas with businesses turning off the lights at night and town centre bodies reconsidering the Christmas lighting displays this year.