Bring the money home for Christmas — shop local and build your communities

With the Christmas market coming to an end in Eyre Square, having attracted tens of thousands of people to the city over the past three weeks, despite the inclement weather, the Galway Advertiser is asking shoppers across the city and county to concentrate their Christmas spend locally to save jobs and to preserve communities.

City businesses reported a boom in sales over the past few weekends in particular as visitors thronged the streets, attracted by the bargains and choice in the shops and by the fare on offer at the Christmas market in Eyre Square and at the Galway Traditional Market which flanks St Nicholas Collegiate Church.

With just a week left until Christmas, business leaders in the city have hailed the influence of the Eyre Square market and the contribution it has made to the the festive atmosphere in the city, but they are now echoing the Advertiser appeal to local shoppers to spend their money in the city this year so that local businesses survive and are enabled to create more employment.

The Advertiser, the business of which has been promoting business for 40 years believes that we all have spending power, whether large or small, and it is our economic future, and that of our families, our friends, and our neighbours on whom our spending will impact directly. So let us take the opportunity to support each other, to promote our communities and to spend locally, which will ultimately be to the benefit of us all.

The creation and maintenance of jobs in this region is dependent on our behaviour as shoppers and buyers. People often say it is great to see jobs advertised in the newspapers. Our answer to them is, if you want to see more jobs advertised in the papers, shop local. And it's not the jobs ads we are after. These are our jobs we are talking about, our parents’ jobs, our brothers’ and sisters’, our relations’, our friends’ jobs. Every time you go to Dublin to shop, you are taking jobs away from your area, or go to other parts of the country, or out of the country altogether. We must support our local businesses. People in the towns and villages of the county should support the businesses there. It is great to have the local shop open at 9pm on a Sunday, when you are stuck for a pint of milk, or something for the children's schools lunches, but if we only visit that shop at 9pm on a Sunday, it won’t be there for very long! If the local shop does not have what you are looking for, then come in to Galway city to do the Christmas shopping.

Decide for a day this Christmas to become a tourist in your own city and county. There is so much to see and do, and Galway has so much to offer. Book a meal in a local restaurant, support the crafts people in our local traditional market who are serving us week in week out and who contribute enormously to the culture of the city; have a warming coffee and mince pie in one of our many hostelries. The Eyre Square market has got us all in the festive mood. Now let us turn that into real spending power over the next few weeks.

The Galway City Business Association were the drivers behind the market and its chairman Paul Faller said that it elongated the Christmas shopping period in the city and that all businesses are feeling the benefit of this.

"The footfall was up and the numbers of those using the park and ride facility were up. Surveys we had undertaken in the market have shown that people came from all over the country specifically because of the Christmas market. And they have stayed in local hotels and B&Bs and have shopped right through the town and not just in Eyre Square.

However, the success of Christmas shopping in Galway will only be determined by local shoppers. "Local business depends on local people getting out and shopping in their community.The GCBA are endeavouring to come up with projects that will attract more people to do their business in Galway and the market was the pinnacle of a successful year on that front," he said, adding that attracting other lucrative events to Galway is high on the GCBA's agenda for next year.

President of Galway Chamber Carmel Brennan also felt that the market was a great business driver.

The newly-elected president is a passionate believer in the power of local communities supporting themselves through shopping locally.

"I'm a proud Galwegian with a great passion for the city and I never miss an oportunity to encourage people to shop in our local businesses, to craete jobs. I can see the benefit of local support in every business in this town. Every euro we don't spend in our local communities is a euro out of the pocket of your family and neighbours who are working or could be working in these businesses.

“My father was a great believer in shopping local. He always felt that you should not buy an item out of town if you could get it in your own place, as the benefits of buying it in your own community meant the money moved around and benefited employers, and employees and enabled them to spend local. And the same logic applies in the present day,” said Ms Brennan.

“The market in Eyre Square was a tremendous success and created a massive footfall in the city in the past few weeks, and this was depspite losing a week to the frosty weather. It was as if Christmas had come four weeks early and this was welcome because of the budget, people needed something to hold on to because in January, people are going to get a shock in their wage packets. But if we stick together and keep our spending local, we can get through this,” she concluded.

The Galway Advertiser appeal to shop locally and preserve jobs and communities aims to get people to spend locally and therefore create jobs and preserve communities and it is backed by Mayor of Galway City councillor Michael Crowe who said that the need to take the shop local appeal has never been more necessary.

“The need for all of us Galway residents to buy locally has probably never been as important in the history of our city and county as this Christmas. Around this time every year, we hear the annual cries from the usual suspects, the Galway Chamber, the Galway City Business Association, the media etc, to do exactly that. We roll our eyes and think, here we go again and why should I buy local if I can save money by buying elsewhere. I understand that and I have been guilty of it in the past myself,” admitted Mayor Crowe.

“However, this year is different. The need to ‘look after our own’ should be foremost in our mind. This year the local businesses face challenges and issues like never before. Now more than ever businesses are struggling to pay their everyday costs. Suppliers have tightened up credit terms, the banks are giving very little lee-way, it is getting harder to pay rents, insurance, rates and other utilities. What we all need to remember is that the business owner gives people employment. And that is one of the most important facts in all of this. By that fact alone, money is coming back in to our local economy as the employees need to live and buy locally. Hence the money we spend locally is paid to these employees and continues to remain local.

“This Christmas, whether you live in Renmore or Oranmore, Tuam, Claregalway, Ballinasloe, Loughrea, or Oughterard, or anywhere else in Galway, I am asking all of you to spend as much as you can in your local town/village and in Galway city. It is imperative that we all do this. We have seen in past years the lines of vehicles travelling to the North and doing the shopping there. But it’s my belief that the Republic has become much more competitive now and this, added to the United Kingdom’s increase in VAT and the current exchange rate no longer makes the North attractive. Plus the shops here in Galway and across the land have realised that they need to give value and this they are doing,” added Galway’s first citizen.

“As Mayor, I am a proud Galwegian. We have the best city in Ireland, not too big or too small. We need to look after this precious place. By shopping locally this year we are supporting the very people who have put their faith in Galway by setting up a business here. It is fundamental that we do all we can to repay that faith and help, not just the owners of these businesses, but also their employees. If we all do this we will make Galway a happier place this Christmas and we could do with a bit more happiness,” concluded Mayor Crowe.

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