PICS: Cork city streets not packed, but customers out to buy

Focused shopping is making up for the numbers, with visitors to the city “knowing exactly what they want,” according to city-centre retailers.
PICS: Cork city streets not packed, but customers out to buy

Laura, Lily and Harry Marshall, Farranferris, Cork, at the post-Christmas sales in Cork.

FOOTFALL in the city is down, but focused shopping is making up for the numbers, with visitors to the city “knowing exactly what they want,” according to city-centre retailers.

Shopping during the post-Christmas sales in Cork city.
Shopping during the post-Christmas sales in Cork city.

Pam O’Regan, who runs Gentleman’s Quarters, Savilles, and #45, said while they are seeing fewer people coming into their shops, purchases are steady.

“St Stephen’s Day was good and Monday was even better,” Mrs O’Regan said, “People are out to buy: They know exactly what they want.”

Following comments from chief medical officer, Tony Holohan, urging people to avoid crowded environments, the businesswoman said it is clear people are being cautious and careful and her staff are working hard to ensure everyone’s safety.

“We want to keep staff and customers safe: It is of no benefit to us otherwise.”

Mrs O’Regan also said people are used to the guidelines and are exercising personal responsibility.

Eddie Mullins, managing director, Fitzgerald Menswear, Cork, (left) and John Kershaw, Rochestown, Cork, a customer, during the post-Christmas sales in Cork city. Picture Denis Minihane.
Eddie Mullins, managing director, Fitzgerald Menswear, Cork, (left) and John Kershaw, Rochestown, Cork, a customer, during the post-Christmas sales in Cork city. Picture Denis Minihane.

Fitzgerald’s Menswear, run by Eddie Mullins, is adapting to the slow, steady trade.

“Historically, there is always a huge rush around this time of year, but this year it seems to be spread out. I think we have a good two weeks ahead of us.”

Mr Mullins also said the big sellers have changed in recent months, with casual wear selling a little faster than the trademark suits.

“We have seen a huge increase in casual sales, high-end trainer/runners from formal brands, and athleisure wear. Knitwear is another big one, with people wanting full-zip jumpers for convenience.”

Open since 1860, Fitzgerald’s is one of the oldest businesses on Patrick St, with a staff of 12.

“We have a good crew at the moment: It’s the perfect mix of maturity and youth,” Mr Mullins said.

Mandy Morrissey and Morgan Madden, sales consultants in Caseys Furniture during the Winter Sale in Cork city.
Mandy Morrissey and Morgan Madden, sales consultants in Caseys Furniture during the Winter Sale in Cork city.

Online staying strong

Sheena’s Boutique, on Oliver Plunkett St, is another business that has noticed a shift in custom, but since the shop opened an online store last March, Sheena McCarthy said she is seeing her customers buying from her store in the comfort of their own homes.

“Online has been bonkers,” Ms McCarthy said. “My girls have been wrapping and packing nonstop.”

Celestine and Selina Hyde, Limerick, at the post-Christmas sales in Cork city.
Celestine and Selina Hyde, Limerick, at the post-Christmas sales in Cork city.

She said there was definitely less volume in the city.

“It is usually crazy in the store this time of year, but, thankfully, online sales have been phenomenal.”

Ms McCarthy said that she has also noticed a shift in consumer demands in recent months, with glitz and glamour declining thanks to fewer events, functions, and occasions to attend.

“Smart casual has gotten very popular: Dressy tops for over skinny jeans, knits, casual coats, and scarves are in demand.”

Ms McCarthy said the pandemic has pushed her out of her comfort zone, in terms of her business, and she has improved her business model as a result.

“I pushed ahead with the website maybe a year before I would have normally and my buying has changed. I’m making different choices.”

While at the moment casual wear is on-trend, Ms McCarthy said she has ordered in a lot of glamour pieces for spring/summer next.

“Glamour will be back, there are a lot of weddings that had to be cancelled, and they will all go ahead next year, hopefully. I have bought a lot of dressy items for next season.”

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