Galway retailers remain upbeat about the future of retail in Ireland, however the overwhelming majority say the Government at local and national level is not doing enough to support the retail economy.
These are among the key findings in the new One4all Retail Index tracking the views of retailers across Ireland.
Commenting on the survey results, Mark O’Shaugnessy of The Finishing Touch fashion accessories boutique in Galway, said: “In Galway it’s clear that consumer confidence is returning, but with a difference. Consumers are being really smart and focusing on serious shopping, while getting really good value rather than just trying to get a cheap price.”
Of the retailers who participated in the One4all Retail Index 72 per cent said the current retail environment was very good to neutral, and 38 per cent said t consumer spending had increased in the past year. A further 28 per cent said spending was holding steady, but 32 per cent had decreased prices in order to keep customers. However price competition remains tight and 56 per cent were also offering more discounts and promotions in store compared to a year ago.
In line with recent trends, e-commerce is seen as revolutionising the retail sector. The traditional buying habits of Irish consumers continues to shift online, with 80 per cent of retailers surveyed who offer an online sales platform experiencing growth over the last year. Fifty-nine per cent who do not currently offer customers an online sales channel said they would develop an online offering over the next 12 months.
The research, commissioned by One4all, also found that cashflow and liquidity were also challenges businesses faced. However, just 14 per cent of retailers blame bankers and only six per cent blame politicians. Instead, poor regulation comes out as the single biggest cause of the recession with more than one in five retailers blaming poor regulation.
The research was published to launch One4all Shoppers Week, a weeklong initiative which began on Monday June 9 and will continue to Sunday, June 15. The initiative encourages consumers to spend the estimated €25 million of One4all Gift Cards currently in circulation in return for great savings and discounts throughout the week.
Rise in vacant premises in Galway
Meanwhile a separate report has found that the number of unoccupied business premises in Galway has risen to 14.6 per cent. The quarterly commercial vacancy report, published this week by GeoDirectory, recorded an overall national rise in the commercial vacancy rate, growing from 11.4 per cent in 2013 to 12.4 per cent in 2014.
The highest vacancy rate among Galway’s main shopping streets is on Abbeygate Street Upper, which stands at 19.4 per cent with 12 of 62 commercial units currently vacant. It is lowest on Shop Street, which has a rate of 3.0 per cent with just one vacant unit among the 33 on the street. Eyre Square has a commercial vacancy rate of 15.8 per cent.
Among Galway’s shopping centres, Terryland Retail Park had the highest vacancy rate at 24.1 per cent, with 13 of its 54 units unoccupied. Corbett Court had a vacancy rate of 20.6 per cent, with seven of its 34 units vacant. The lowest vacancy rate was recorded in Galway Retail Park at 6.8 per cent, with 41 of its 44 units occupied.
Patrick Street in Limerick has the least number of occupied business premises with 16 out of 37 commercial units, or 43.2 per cent, classified as vacant.
Commenting on the findings, Dara Keogh, CEO of GeoDirectory, said: “Our findings illustrate that there are certainly parts of the country that are feeling the effects of the economic downturn more keenly than others.”