CITY retailers and business groups need to do more to develop their online shopping presence, according to Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy.
He said that the growth of e-commerce is having a far bigger impact on city trade than new traffic restrictions.
His comments came in the wake of a passionate debate about the future of city trade at City Hall this week.
Some members of Cork City Council called for a rollback of the afternoon car ban measures on Patrick Street in a bid to aid struggling businesses, while others backed the introduction of new parking incentives to draw shoppers into town.
Mr McCarthy said that the experience of city businesses is being reflected on high streets all across Europe as traditional retail changes. He said that a bigger focus on digital strategies and social media marketing is needed.
He noted a Retail Excellence Ireland report that showed 50% of Irish shoppers are now shopping online, spending an average of €3,000 per year.
Mr McCarthy said: “For many people with busy working lives it is easier to buy online. For the young generation, many of them shop online. It is heartening to hear of the Cork Business Association’s online Cork City shopping portal and to hear that Cork City’s Local Enterprise Office is helping 50 businesses in the city his year to go online, as well as the Council developing a Digital strategy. All of these strategies need to speed up.
“There is still a lot of work to do when it comes to promoting city centre shopping online. More and more we are seeing research reports that to connect with younger consumers, retailers must develop engaging and relevant social media strategies, as 94% of 18 to 24-year-olds find their inspiration to purchase on social media.
“Almost two-thirds of those surveyed by Paypal this year used a mobile device for shopping in the last year, which represents a growth of 61% of mobile spending in Ireland in 2018 to €2.8 billion. This is a clear indicator that having a mobile-friendly website is no longer an option, but rather a critical success factor for retailers.”