Joan Lucey of Vibes and Scribes Bookstore on Lavitt’s Quay is one of many business owners who have been busy preparing for opening their doors for the second time this year, having first reopened after the country’s first lockdown before being forced to close again during the latest level 5 restrictions.
Ms Lucey said that although she is appreciative of all the support from her customers, that she is also “a bit apprehensive” about reopening as this year’s Christmas trading period is “so uncertain”.
“We’re a bit apprehensive because we don’t know what to expect. You usually plan your Christmas carefully every year, you know the busier days, within reason, and you can organise your staff but we don’t know yet if there’ll be a big crowd in town or if there’ll be nobody,” she said.
She highlighted the importance of people taking responsibility for themselves while they shop and said that “people need to shop with consideration”.
Ms Lucey said that the number of customers allowed in the store at any one given time will be monitored, and that people shouldn’t delay in deciding what to buy, but instead come with a list and know what they want.
“I think customers will be like that this year, I don’t see people browsing around the shop or having a big day out of shopping, I'd say they'll get what they need and go home again,” she said.
Ms Lucey has noticed an increased awareness in shopping local through the online sales of the Arts and Crafts store and the new offering of books online.
“I think people are conscious of supporting local, if you have a choice you would want to buy from somebody local and as I’ve said before, spend your money locally and you’ll get it back,” she said.
President of the Cork Business Association (CBA), Eoin O’Sullivan, said that although it may not be a year where businesses make as much money as they normally would, that it is about getting people back to work and welcoming people back into the city.
“The CBA’s members are doing their utmost to ensure everyone's safety and implementing guidelines. There is going to be queueing so shoppers can expect some bit of a delay but it’s to ensure everyone's safety and that people can shop and not be worrying about contracting the virus,” he said.
He asked people to have patience with staff and business owners who are working to provide people with an enjoyable shopping experience and advised shoppers to have their lists made before making their way to the shops.
Mr O’Sullivan said that it was also great to see so many bookings being made for local restaurants and gastro pubs and advised shoppers who are stopping for a bite to eat to make a reservation ahead of time “so they have some bit of a plan when they get into the city centre”.
“I think everybody is more than willing to get back out and about and there's a pent-up demand there as well so the CBA are looking forward to welcoming people back into the city centre,” he said.
Meanwhile, County Mayor, Cllr Mary Linehan Foley and the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Joe Kavanagh have encouraged the public to shop local as non-essential retail reopens.
Speaking to The Echo, the County Mayor said after a tough year for businesses, shopping local has never been more important.
“We at Cork County Council are delighted that some of the restrictions have eased, but of course it is very important that people stay safe and adhere to the public health advice.
“We need to show our support for businesses in our towns and our villages by making sure that what we spend this Christmas stays local,” she said.
Speaking recently, the Lord Mayor of Cork said: “2020 has been such a challenging and difficult year due to Covid-19 and the impact the virus has had on people’s lives.
“We would like everyone to stay safe, stay local and to support Cork businesses this Christmas."