Time for us to save ourselves now
Over the past few days, there has been a jauntiness in the step of the people of Ireland. Perhaps it has to do with the weather. In the past few years, by this time, half the county was under water or under ice and the harsh winters of 2009 and 2010 were well under way.
Perhaps it is the success of a local man in the race for the presidency and the glow there was last Friday when we showed that Paddy can do pageantry if pushed.
Perhaps it is the success of the international football team who have ensured that next summer, we will have an interest in what is the world’s second most valuable sporting event.
Perhaps it is the fact that the aristocrats of European rugby are due in town this weekend to illustrate that our rugby team is now welcome to dine at the top table of that sport.
Yes, there has been a lot to smile about in recent days and long may it last, especially since the Budget is just around the corner and we will need all the good humour we can muster.
But Galway is in a fortunate position. The Volvo Ocean Race is already on its way towards us. By the time you read this, those valuable vessels will have travelled several miles across the world’s oceans, edging their way towards us next summer, but the Galway experience will be only worthwhile if the Galway we know is the one that exists this time next year.
The communities we all live in were not created overnight. The shops we frequent, the pubs we relax in, the clubs and societies that our families and ourselves are members of are all part of the mix that creates the reason you live where you do.
We choose to live here because of that mix, the loss of any one component would make the experience a lesser one, and that is why we now have to play our part in preserving jobs and preserving our communities.
Research published this week has shown that Irish people will once again be the second highest spenders on Christmas, spending four or five times as much as our friends in The Netherlands.
The survey, which was carried out in the second and third week in September, shows that of the average household spend in Ireland this festive season, €520 will be spent on gifts, €258 will be spent on food, and €165 will be spent on socializing. This year Irish consumers are predicting that they will spend 9.5 per cent less on gifts, 5.5 per cent less on food and nearly four per cent less on socialising. So the spend will be there. It will be less than it was over the past few years, but it is still a substantial one, and one that we need to keep within our own communities.
Shop Local campaigns have been limited in their success in the past because the people at whom they are aimed understandably have little sympathy for the affluent business owner pleading with his/her customers for society. There is nobody feeling sorry for the wealthy shopowner who may have done well in times past, and with whom it is difficult to equate a poverty-stricken Christmas.
But what the public often fail to see is that the business owner is often the last to be affected by the downturn in spending. The first casualty is often the front of shop employee, ie, yourself, your husband, wife, sister, brother, daughter, son, father, mother. These are the people that we are directly penalising every time we spend outside our communities, by supporting businesses which never do anything to support us.
Next Tuesday, the Galway Advertiser, in conjunction with the Galway City Business Association launches our Shop Local, Save Jobs, Save Communities campaign. The campaign will be launched by mayor Hildegarde Naughton, outside our offices here at Eyre Square, where the event will be marked with fun, games and live music, with proceeds of the events going to Croi.
We will be kicking off a year-long awareness campaign at ensuring that we remember to keep more and more of our spend in our local communities.
Remember, when it comes to getting a sponsor for our children’s football team or a summer job for our daughter, or a spot prize for our fundraising raffle — all integral parts of Irish community life, it is to these local businesses that we go.
I feel that if we keep our business in our community, then we are keeping our community in business and that is why this newspaper is going to do something about it. We invite you all to play your role and if possible to come along on Tuesday and join us for the launch.