Limerick is due a high street revival

High street shopping may be on the way back for Limerick. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

‘TOWN is dead lads’. We’ve all heard it. Maybe we’ve all even said it. Whether it’s the O’Connell Street works driving us out to the Crescent or Amazon Prime Day making it far too easy to just click our way retail bliss, we’ve all been shifting our shopping habits out of the city. Or have we?

New research from Penneys, in partnership with Amárach Research, has shown that as many as four in 10 of us are finding ourselves spending more in our local stores and boutiques than before the Covid pandemic. Not something I would have expected so I guess, as the saying goes, thanks Penneys.

According to Penneys’ research, what a lot of us are missing out on since the days of not being able to go more than two kilometres away from our nests is, perhaps not surprisingly, the human touch.

One of the main findings of the research is that, when it comes to online shopping, as many as 55 per cent of us dread the associated hassle of returns and delivery delays (33 per cent reported issues here) in getting our Friday fits. I mean, makes sense, right? Is the adorable sweater going to arrive in time for bunch? And if it does, is it going to fit? Who do we talk to if it doesn’t?

Despite us all feeling a little frustrated with the offering and ambience on the high street right now, 61 percent of the 1,200 people surveyed said that they are far happier shopping in-store than online. Mostly because they know they’re putting their hard earned cash into their local economies and communities. (Do you really need me to bang the sustainable shopping drum again?)

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On top of this, there’s just the whole experience of it. 72 per cent of those surveyed said you can’t beat the high street for being able to physically try on fits – and anyone who has shopped online knows only too well how things that look great on models don’t always match up when it comes to real bodies.

32 per cent said the social outlet of shopping with family or friends just couldn’t be beat. And, reader, they’re not wrong. Sometimes you need the feedback only a friend waiting impatiently outside the fitting room can give.

That said, many reported a great need for investment and reinvigorating on our main thoroughfares.

51 per cent of people said that businesses closing down was a major draw in shifting to shopping online, with 57 percent adding that derelict buildings in regional towns and cities left slim pickings when out and about seeking a bargain.

It’s hard to deny that, but Limerick Minister of State Kieran O’Donnell threw his oar in here, saying: “The National Town Centre First Office and local authorities will work with local businesses to ensure our towns have the tools, resources, and investment they need to tackle major issues such as dereliction and vacant properties.”

“This will re-invigorate retail and promote urban living, support the local economy through the creation of liveable and vibrant urban spaces. Key to the success of this is for people to shop locally.”

As the man says, if you build it, they will come, now all we need is the opportunity. Who’s ready for a shopping spree?