In a welcome boost to the local economic environment, all retail units within Golden Island Shopping Centre opened to the public on Monday morning last.
The shopping centre welcomed customers en masse (with relevant public health guidelines in place ) as a semblance of normality returned to the perennially popular facility.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser on Tuesday afternoon, Pat O’Toole, Manager, Golden Island Shopping Centre, noted the heightened level of anticipation amongst all retailers as they welcomed back customers on Monday.
“We are now fully operational as a shopping centre. During the recent period of restrictions there was an element of custom within the centre as Tesco, Boots, Holland and Barrett, L&N Family Butchers, Bookstation and latterly, Specsavers, remained opened.
“Opening the shopping centre has now afforded all retail outlets within a ‘lifeline’ and an opportunity to create cash flow during the summer season and hopefully for the remainder of the calendar year.
“However, it is a very much changed working environment with the leisure element one associates with a visit to Golden Island Shopping Centre now non-existent for the interim,” Pat remarked.
Understandably apprehensive with regard to the shopping centre operating at maximum service, Pat stated that all relevant public health guidelines implemented were being strictly adhered to by the purchasing public.
“Initial trade on Monday was brisk within all the reopened retail units. The decision taken by Penneys to offer an appointment based service last week has greatly helped with regard to customer queue time and it has been an orderly experience for all who have visited the shopping centre to date,” Pat asserted.
In anticipation of a spending boost during the summer season, Pat stated that the shopping centre is operating at close to maximum capacity with a new store, Yours Clothing, preparing to open on June 4.
“Hopefully the retail sector will return to a positive space. Online shopping has become immensely popular during the imposition of public health restrictions and it may have a detrimental impact upon face to face purchasing in the times to come, but hopefully this is not the case.
Noting the “feel good factor” hovering within the numerous retail stores presently, Pat is hoping that future improvements pertaining to the current public health situation will allow for the return of charity collection days in the shopping centre.
“Unfortunately, we are unable to facilitate charity collection days and entertainment showcases which are a regular feature within the shopping centre but hopefully, as public health matters improve we will be able to do so.
“Our public seating is also sealed off, while restaurants are solely offering a take out service presently which is reducing the dwell time for many customers.
“The general feeling is one of positivity and optimism. It is a major boost to have all Golden Island Shopping Centre units operational and I would encourage customers to give of their shopping time to our bricks and mortar businesses as they strive to return to retail normality following such a long period of closure,” Pat concluded.