In a week that retailers and restaurants were hoping would kick off a festive spending spree, Ireland’s arctic weather is costing business $600 million a week due to lost sales, missing staff and reduced production.

A survey of 400 businesses estimated that the retail losses would amount to €130m a week and that losses to other services such as restaurants, pubs, hotels, and hairdressers would be around €200m. Manufacturing loses would also amount to €130m a week.

"While the cost has been substantial, it would have been significantly higher were it not for the improved response from government and local authorities," said Brendan Butler, Irish Business and Employer’s Corporation’s director of policy.

Over fifty percent of businesses rated the government’s response to the weather as good or very good.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland said that business at restaurants is down 30-40 percent as Christmas party bookings are cancelled and diners stay home. Many restaurants are closing early because there isn’t enough business.

"This should be a bumper weekend but instead everyone is heading home early so there's been a lot of cancellations," said the association's chief executive, Adrian Cummins.

Shops have also been forced to shut their doors early as both staff and consumers need to get home.

"People will come back to do their Christmas shopping, but you cannot sell a cup of coffee to someone who's not there, and people aren't going make spur of the moment purchases if they're not out and about," said the Dublin City Centre Business Association's chief, Tom Coffey.

The Dublin Chamber of Commerce insisted that shoppers would return to the city as weather conditions improve and people made up for lost shopping time.