Thursday 13 December 2018

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Cork Independent

Weekly

Shop local this Christmas

Wednesday, 5th December, 2018 4:57pm

For many businesses, we have now entered the most critical part of the year.

While you might (legitimately) complain about how commercial Christmas has gotten, it remains a key time for so many local businesses.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all associated events are not very important to many of them just yet, but it was heartening to read this week, that while more money is being spent online at these times, it shouldn’t detract too much from sales to local companies.

A new report this week suggested that while the strong online performance over Black Friday weekend had an impact on footfall in traditional outlets, local retailers are reporting an increase in sales online also.

That came from Retail Ireland, an Ibec group. This week it published its Christmas Retail Monitor 2018.

That predicted that the Irish household will spend an average of €2,690 in shops this December, approximately €866 more than any other month of this year. That’s roughly three per cent higher than Christmas 2017.

With a greater number of Irish shoppers now choosing to shop on foreign websites, there is a huge challenge for Irish retailers to ensure that they benefit from this anticipated additional spending.

The Cork Independent has been running a news feature on the city centre over the last few weeks, trying to draw attention to the city centre's retailers. Hopefully it has helped raise awareness of their situation, which is greater than the issues caused by City Council traffic changes.

Last week a major report by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland warned that “restrictions on out of town shopping centres and the provision of high-speed broadband are just two measures which need to be implemented urgently if the decline of the mains streets of our small towns is to be reversed”. The report, entitled ‘Rejuvenating Ireland’s small-town centres’ focuses on 200 towns with populations of between 1,500 and 10,000.

Report author, chartered surveyor and town planner Stephen Purcell said changes in consumer behaviour, specifically a move towards ‘experiential’ shopping, a vacuum in local government and increased costs for businesses have helped create ‘the perfect storm’ for regional businesses.

Many of the same factors apply to high streets in Irish city centres. Things need to change for many local businesses to survive. The first step is for people to try and shop locally when possible. And one man has made that much easier.

Dave Calnan recently set up buycork.ie, a very clever website. Type the product or service you need into a search bar on the website and it offers you Cork options. Business owners can submit their stores to be listed, too. As it says on the website, ‘Find loval alternatives to chains and bigger brands’.

Think of that as you do the rest of your Christmas shopping, folks!

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