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PUP numbers drop as trade steps up

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THE amount of Clare people receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment dipped significantly between December 8 and 15.

Clare’s economy has apparently benefited from the loosening of Covid-19 restrictions and increased spending close to Christmas, with the number of people receiving the payment dropping by more than 800 in a week from 7,398 to 6,539.

The weeks before Christmas are the busiest time of the year for retailers, and in Ennis Liam Meaney, the manager of men’s clothes shop Club Dangan on O’Connell Street, said that business has been quite brisk of late. “Thankfully trade has been very good since we came back, we can’t complain at all, we’re delighted with it.

“This year we’ve spent almost as much time closed as we’ve been open, but here between the two lockdowns we got our website going, so that helped us in the second lockdown.

“We were behind closed doors posting out orders and doing click and collect, so that was a massive help for us.”

He said that in his sector, trade would need to be busy during December, while he feels that regulations against travelling beyond county boundaries might have actually helped Ennis. “Since we came back it has been very busy, but if you’re not busy in this month in our trade, there’s definitely something wrong.

“One thing that has probably helped trade here is that you can’t cross the county borders and most people stayed local and shopped local, which we especially appreciated this year.”

In the run-up to the big day the shop will be open beyond 6pm on numerous days. “The hours get longer, people who finish work at 6pm come in and do a bit of shopping. Last night we were here till after 7pm with customers which was great.”

Kilrush-based Councillor Ian Lynch called for support for the town’s retail sector, which he says provides 250 jobs. “Sometimes people in West Clare do not realise the level of employment provided by small businesses in Kilrush,” Councillor Lynch stated.

“The figure of 250 jobs in the town sector only applies to retail and does not include other businesses,” he added.

As a result of the double national lockdown this year, many businesses in Kilrush moved much of their trade online and this has resulted in a huge boost to their business. “I am hearing from local businesses that they are selling to people from all over the world, who have connections with Kilrush and West Clare.

“Instead of buying and posting Christmas presents from where they are currently living, many people are shopping online in Kilrush for presents for family members in West Clare,” Councillor Lynch explained.

“While the pandemic has been very challenging for businesses all over the world, it is heartening to see so many businesses in Kilrush pivoting and increasing their online trade,” he added.

Councillor Lynch also pointed out that many people who live in Kilrush, and throughout Clare, are shopping local this Christmas in recognition of the need to support local businesses. “That is definitely the case. It is great to see people in West Clare supporting retailers in Kilrush at a time when it is badly needed.”

Owen Ryan

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.