Cork city centre was bustling with shoppers supporting their local retailers that have reopened the doors for the first time in months today.
Life returned to the city’s streets as shops welcomed back customers new and old under the Government’s roadmap to reopening the country.
Manager of Candlemania on Oliver Plunkett Street, Martha Golec, said that she is delighted to be reopened and seeing their customers in person again.
She said that they have spent the last two weeks preparing for reopening with more room being made in-store for customers “so they don't feel like there's one on top of another” and a new floral wall.
She said that external work will also be taking place but that two weeks “was a bit short notice to prepare”.
“We didn't want to start doing up the shop not knowing if we were going to reopen or not so then having two weeks was a bit short but I’m delighted with the result and it was great to be able to do a bit of DIY here and just revamp it because our shop needed a bit of revamp,” she said.
Director of Camera World Shane O’Leary said that it is great to be back and that from a personal point of view “it’s great to have routine back again”.
He said that it has been great to see people back and to see society reopening again after so long.
“I had a tiny bit of anxiety walking in the door because I was thinking can I do this again, it’s been so long but it’s been great to see everyone and get back to normality,” he said.
He said that while the shop ran online throughout the lockdown, that “nothing compares to the personal approach”.
Sales Technician John Horgan echoed Mr O’Leary’s comments and said that people have been “wanting to support local”.
“It seems to have been emphasised more because of Covid-19 that we need to support each other through it.
A lot of people last week, when we were doing click and collect, came to the door and popped their heads in and were saying it’s great to see ye and you had that sense of connection and that sense of community within the town.
One of the founders of Cummins Sport, Kevin Cummins told The Echo that he was thrilled to see the familiar faces and those who have been supporting them online throughout the pandemic call into the shops across the city.
“It’s lovely to see those people coming back in and great to see the staff, the girls with their new hairstyles.
“It’s a relief to us too that there's some bit of a light at the end of the tunnel and we’re very thankful to the Government for the support that they’ve given us. It helped us get over the hump.
“We were not big into online. It was a backup but it took off over the lockdown and we were flat out on it. We sent stuff as far away as Ho Chi Minh city and Reykjavik.
“It means everything, we made a point of sending a signed letter to every person who dealt with us online. We all like appreciation and I felt it was incumbent on us that we would show that appreciation because people could buy stuff from anywhere in the world online and they came to us,” he said.
Brendan O’Sullivan of Reflex Clothing on North Main Street said that although they had “done a bit online” that there were no weddings in the last number of months which would usually keep him busy with sales.
“It’s fantastic to be back and we hope to be here for a good couple of years now without any interruptions.
“We had a few regulars in. It will take a while to settle into it now and people will get abc into their routines.
There haven't been many weddings or anything this year so that would affect us but hopefully that will start off on a smaller scale and we’ll just hope that next year that will take off again and back to normal. Onwards and upwards.
Janet Murphy of Castle Jewellers on Castle Street said that there had been some people looking at engagement rings and that there were also many old faces returning to the shop on Monday morning.
“It’s great to see people that we missed, especially elderly people. We’re delighted to see them coming back in to make sure they’re okay. I noticed a lot of them are coming in for chats and catching up to see how we’re doing.
“We’re delighted to be back to normal,” she said.
North of the river, Patricia Stokes of Homefront in Blackpool Shopping Centre, said that it was great to see people so delighted to be back out shopping.
It’s great to get back and to see our customers, there’s a lot of them that have been waiting to come back in for so long.
"They don’t like to do the online shopping so they’re so happy to come back in and meet us all. Just to even get dressed up and get out of the tracksuit,” she said.
She said that the shop has been stocked with new items that staff have spent all last week getting ready to “hopefully sell this week”.
Meanwhile, there was a queue this morning for Penneys which also reopened this morning, after offering appointment-only shopping experiences to people last week.
Róisín O’Rourke and friends Áine Barry and Clara Sweeney braved the queues which Ms O’Rourke said was “moving pretty quickly” and that they hadn’t been waiting very long in line.
Ms Barry said that she “couldn’t wait” to get inside and that it was “great to be back in town”.
Ms Sweeney said that she was looking forward to being able to buy essential clothing again after the shops being closed for so long.
More Penneys-goers said that the main attraction to the store was pyjamas and joggers.
Shauna Casey said that her priority, once she got into the shop, was buying joggers and to look at some of the dupes of some more expensive brands that Penneys are selling.
Ciara O’Neill and Chloe Fleming said they were looking forward to buying themselves a new set of pyjamas and said that it was nice to be able to get out of the house and to see the buzz around town. this morning.