The leaves are changing colour. But we are so busy rushing here and there it’s easy to miss how nature moves on. Even from our office here on Market Square we have a little slice of autumn outside our window. It is nice to be based in the heart of a town and not be excluded from the changing of the seasons.
We were battered by storms at the start of the week and that was a real reminder of what could be ahead of us in terms of harsh weather conditions as winter approaches.
There were also reports this week of Arctic conditions settling in earlier this year, possibly as soon as the end of October, although these far range forecasts should be taken with a pinch of salt.
That said, businesses will struggle to survive if we experience the same conditions that blighted the country last winter. So many are on the edge as it is and could do with a little reprieve. It is not coming from the banks, so surely the weather gods could extend an olive branch this year.
But we should learn from years gone by. Christmas shopping is part and parcel of life and something which is just around the corner. It’s only 99 days to Christmas, scary, but true.
Now is the time to start thinking about gifts, buying them, wrapping them, and spreading out the cost. Businesses could do with the early boost in revenue for fear the usual Christmas rush is hampered by ice and snow. And for ourselves, staggering the shopping between pay packs will lessen the financial load come the end of December.
All the festive knick knacks will be available here in Mayo. Perfumes, aftershaves, gift vouchers, toy shops, computer stores, we have them all and more. The resounding message this year is to shop local and keep our communities alive and interesting. Imagine your typical local village without its pub, post office and convenience store. It is these businesses that are struggling. Look around your local town — more and more once thriving stores are now derelict sites. By spending your Christmas cash in Mayo this year you will have done your bit to add to the local economy.
And businesses are making a concerted effort. You can sense that people are trying to be a little more positive and a little less morose. Let’s face it, who wants to be listening to the moaning and groaning? Business owners are definitely taking charge of their own destinies and looking at getting the message out there about what unique offering they have. No one else is going to do it for us, we need to see what we can all do to offer a better service.
Of course, the success of shop local campaigns does not rest solely on the shoulders of consumers. It is incumbent on the businesses to look at themselves too, and to ensure that customer service is better than it is, that staff are trained in the basics of good manners and don’t grunt an answer at you; that waiting staff don’t try their best to avoid eye contact; and that shop layouts are inviting and don’t look more like storerooms than places to browse and buy. We must relish the challenge and use the opportunity to push ourselves in business.
It’s time to get back to basics and support our own. A little bit will go a long way.
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