CONSUMER confidence in County Clare is up this year according to businesses organisations in the county.
Jack Kelly of Kilrush Chamber of Commerce said that from his experience people are “a bit more upbeat this year.”
“I would call it optimistic, in the sense that people are a bit more upbeat this year. I think it is because this year wasn’t as bad or as recessionary as other years even though things are still fairly tough. There are little buds of light there and people are in a slightly better form,” he said.
Mr Kelly said that West Clare businesses have had a strong year because of the good weather during the summer.
“We had a reasonable year in West Clare in the sense that the weather has looked after us. In terms of tourists coming to the area we had the National Famine Commemoration and the Loop Head lighthouse. People are slightly more upbeat than they have been in the last number of years, without a doubt,” he outlined.
Mr Kelly praised local business people for making an effort to entice people into the town centre. He also encouraged people to buy locally.
“If people can purchase it in Kilrush, I would ask them to please do it and in particular in the small, local retailers in the town centre. The retailer is the heartbeat of any town. We don’t want ghost towns. We want good strong heartbeats in the town and the only way to get it is by people thinking before making their purchases, be it online or in the large, multinationals. Think about the local retailers. I know people will say price has a lot to do with it but price isn’t the biggest issue in the world. You have service, and come back, if something goes wrong rather than picking up the phone and ringing a service line in Mumbai. These are considerations that should be considered before buying. I would encourage people to think when making their purchases. If they do, small towns will survive and will regenerate. None of the retailers here are off buying houses in the Caribbean, we are putting that money back into the local town,” Mr Kelly concluded.
Ennis retailers are having a similar experience with business remaining “quite steady”.
“Businesses are apprehensive ahead of the 10 days before Christmas which is the key time for retail. They are tentative in relation to it and hoping it will be a strong Christmas. It is very competitive out there. It is good to be a consumer at this time of year. There are a lot of offers out there, a lot of competition. Our message to people is to think about your purchases this year in terms of shopping local. There is good value locally and they can still shop around but be conscious of shopping local and the consequences of how that money stays in the local economy, employs people and has a knock-on effect,” said Rita McInerney, chief executive, Ennis Chamber.
“There is certainly more optimism among consumers. There is a little more optimism there among consumers. It is very difficult for people. They are conscious of price and value. There isn’t a lot of money in circulation but at the same time it is Christmas and people want to spend and want to celebrate at this time of year and give to loved ones. We know the money is limited but think of how you spend it and the value it has when you spend it locally,” she urged.
Ms McInerney lauded the success of the Ennis Gold vouchers which she said had resulted in €300,000 being kept in the local economy over the past four years, with a further €40,000 in vouchers still unspent.
In Shannon’s Skycourt the numbers of people visiting the centre has remained steady.
“Skycourt traditionally gets busy for the last two weeks before Christmas so we don’t know the figures for that yet. Santa arrived two Saturday’s ago and that is free so that has definitely helping bring people in and get the word out about the centre. We have a footfall counter here and it is saying that the number of people coming to the centre is on a par with last year but whether they are spending the same or not I don’t know. Our anchor store Dealz has reported that it has been extremely busy for the past few months,” Skycourt’s Pat Kelly said.