As Athlone looks forward to a year in the spotlight, during which it will host several high profile events and festivals, retailers have reported a reasonably positive festive season, according to Athlone Chamber of Commerce.
Commenting on the performance of local businesses during the Christmas period, CEO of Athlone Chamber, Siobhan Bigley, said retailers had inadvertently benefitted from the cold snap in the days before Christmas.
“Things were slow in the build-up to Chrismas, but got very busy in the final days. In addition, the weather and road conditions prevented people from travelling up north. On the other hand, the Esprit shop in Athlone Towncentre closed down in recent days. People don’t expect much in January, but hopefully in February and March things will pick up.”
Ms Bigley is hoping that the many national and international events to be hosted in the town this year will bring much-needed footfall into the town, as well as encouraging repeat business.
“We have a number of big events in Athlone this year, including the International Pike Angling Festival, the RTE All-Ireland Drama Festival, the European People’s Festival, the Community Games national finals, and the European Triathlon Championship. These will all bring business into the town later in the year,” she said.
President of Athlone Chamber, Carmel Connolly of Thinkdirect marketing, added that, in spite of pressure and unfavourable economic conditions, the local retail sector had coped reasonably well over the festive season.
“The general feeling is that things were better than expected over December and Christmas,” she said.
Manager of Burgess of Athlone, Rosie Boles, said her department store had had a “good run up to Christmas”, and a steady trickle of sales shoppers since then.
“We opened the two Sundays before Christmas, which we had never done before. We sent a text to our customers that morning, and many were delighted to hear we were open. It was a long run in to Christmas as there was a full week before Christmas Day, but we were pleased enough.
“We opened our doors on Monday December 28 and had four busy day before New Year’s Eve, despite the weather. It was busy on Saturday, and since then it has quietened down hugely. But we had a healthier run up to Christmas than we thought we would, so thanks must go to our customers. We have fantastic value in our sale, and are quite happy with business at the moment.”