There’s a fresh smell of paint in the Coyle household, so Christmas is definitely on the way. And there has been a definite sense of Christmas following the launch of the Christmas Market and the switching on of the Christmas lights. The weather too has become that bit more seasonal, although, given the weather we have experienced this year, it is difficult to determine what exactly ‘seasonal weather’ is anymore.
I attended the launch last week in the Aula Maxima at NUI Galway of the Economic Impact Study of the Volvo Ocean Race finale that took place in Galway in July. €60.5 million was the estimated spend by the event organisers and the event visitors and the Hospitality Sector appears to have been the big winners. Unfortunately, the Retail Sector seems to have lost out as people chose to spend their money on enjoying themselves rather than buying in the local shops.
The difficulties facing the Retail Sector have been articulated many times since the beginning of 2008 when the economic downturn started. Low consumer confidence, reduced disposable income, rising unemployment, negative equity and the uncertainties of budgets and bailouts and the future of the euro are all contributors to low retail spending. We are now into the fifth consecutive winter where these economic conditions prevail and yet I must admire the resilience of the retailers across our city who consistently present their shops in a positive manner, who consistently innovate and invest to make the shopping experience a pleasurable one and who consistently offer excellent service and most of all value for money to their customers.
The Christmas Market will attract people to Galway, but I suspect that on the journeys home it will be Shop Street and Cross Street and Abbeygate Street and Eglinton Street and High Street and Mainguard Street and Kirwans Lane and the Eyre Square Shopping Centre and Edward Square and Galway Shopping Centre that will entice the shoppers back. The people who have shops in these streets have been in Galway a long time. They have provided employment to tens of thousands of people over the years. They have kept their business going through good times and not so good times. And they have consistently delivered good value and friendly service to locals and visitors alike.
Galway Chamber is again calling on everybody in Galway to ‘Spend Christmas in Galway’ as part of its Shop Local campaign. By keeping your spend local, you will be supporting your Retail Sector and helping to secure jobs into the future. We all have a part to play.