BUSINESS in Cork City has returned to pre-pandemic levels this Christmas, the president of the Cork Business Association (CBA) has said.
CBA president Kevin Herlihy, who runs a number of Centra shops in Cork, said there has been really positive feedback from CBA members and businesses across the city, who said they have been exceptionally busy in the last three weeks and that they have had a really good run into Christmas.
“With my own business, we’re seeing a huge amount of people back into the city. I think people were afraid to be out and about during the pandemic.
“There was probably an awful lot of online shopping happening and that seems to have reverted back to face-to-face shopping.
“From a turnover perspective, it’s definitely up. What we are noticing is there are definitely a lot more people using cards than cash. It’s after jumping massively which is just a sign of the times we’re living in that people are moving away from cash toward cards which is a good thing from a security perspective.”
He said there has been a “really good buzz” in the city centre in recent weeks and particularly in the last few days in the run-up to Christmas.
“The Share students are out collecting, there’s a lot of busking going on and indeed there has been a really good Garda presence on the streets also, so I commend the gardaí for that.
"Overall it’s very positive and we’re at the final hurdle now,” he said.
Echoing his comments, Eddie Mullins of Fitzgerald Menswear on Patrick Street said the city was “looking extra clean” and commended Cork City Council for the effort put into maintaining it to a high level and commended the gardaí for the high presence and additional resources on the streets over the festive period.
He also welcomed the weather which he said had been very kind to retailers in the city. “We saw a huge amount of people, especially when it was a bit colder. When the cold snap came it really kick-started the Christmas season.
“We’ve had people from the middle of Ireland come into us, people who would have gone to Dublin historically. I think it’s great that we offer a safe, very family-friendly city and a lovely mix of local shops and some of the bigger ones.
“We had a great run here and everyone I’ve spoken to around town is very happy with business and people made an effort to support local which was really appreciated.”
He commended the team at Fitzgerald Menswear describing them as probably the “biggest and strongest team we ever had”.
“We work hard but we have good fun as well and I think this will probably go down as one of the best Christmases in many years,” he said.
Carole Horgan of Best Of Buds florists in Winthrop Arcade said trading has been going “gloriously well”.
“Our fabulous regular customers continue to support us, and this is what is absolutely critical for retail survival in our city centre,” she said.
Manager of Wilton Shopping Centre Susanne Irwin said it has been fantastic to see people so happy and to see such a great atmosphere returning to the shopping centre.
“Talking to some of the staff around the centre they’re saying there’s a great buzz which is so nice to see and customers are saying that they wanted to get back into the shops for their Christmas shopping this year.”
She said that there has been a huge increase in numbers doing their shopping at Wilton Shopping Centre, with “well over 100,000 per week” visiting the centre, which she said is fantastic considering that throughout Covid the centre was down to about 17,000 a week.