Newsagents closing down at a rate of 50 a month, according to the Convenience Store and Newsagent Association.
The average number of employees in each store is 11, meaning that more than 130 extra people in the industry are finding themselves out of work every seven days.
Even if the current rate of closures is only maintained, and does not accelerate, in excess of 600 shops will close their doors this year with the loss of almost 7,000 jobs.
This is equivalent to more than three times the number of jobs lost as a result of the closure of the computer manufacturing aspect of Dell’s business in Limerick.
“Because these jobs are being lost a handful at a time many people don’t realise the scale of the disaster, but this is a virulent cancer eating away at communities all over the country,” said CSNA chief executive Vincent Jennings.
Local newsagents and convenience stores, many of which house vital services such as post offices, began to see above average closures in August but the trend has accelerated rapidly since the New Year.
“The speed at which small enterprises are being driven out of business is unprecedented. It is truly a national wipeout but approximately 60 per cent of the closures are north of the line between Dublin and Galway.
“As the Government considers its economic framework it must do everything possible to sustain jobs and small businesses. Failure to do so will eviscerate the lifeblood of Ireland’s domestic economy,” added Mr Jennings.
“Taoiseach Brian Cowen says that Ireland has to redouble its efforts to sustain employment and he personally insists that jobs are his number one priority. This sentiment should not just apply to companies like Dell or Intel.”
Mr Jennings said that there were a number of actions that the Government could take immediately to make it easier for small businesses to survive.
“In the United Kingdom they have designated an entire government department as being in charge of regulatory reform to make businesses of all sizes operate more smoothly,” said Mr Jennings.
“We desperately need a similar approach here. There are now so many regulations either existing or incoming, from new litter bye-laws to tobacco display bans and other compliance issues which will cost shop owners large amounts of money that they neither have nor are capable of borrowing in this climate.
“I call on Brian Cowen and his cabinet to live up to his pledge on jobs. The Government must look at the regulations and potential regulations it has under its control. And, above all, it must not do anything that will cost struggling shop owners money they simply do not have at this time.”