Irish consumers are being urged to support Irish businesses and jobs by making an effort to support local retailers ahead of their anticipated reopening next week.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Ministers of State Damien English and Robert Troy today launched the Government's campaign, in partnership with Enterprise Ireland and the local authorities, to remind people to 'Look for Local' and build on the recent groundswell of support shown to local businesses when looking to buy goods or services.
“We want to remind people that even with restrictions in place, you can still shop local, whether the shops are physically open or selling products through click and collect services," Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said.
Mr Varadkar said retailers have made "huge sacrifices to keep us all safe," acknowledging it's been "a really tough year" for business owners, their staff and families. He said he hopes the campaign encourages people to explore their local retailer this year.
"Small businesses employ over one million people here, they are a crucial part of our economy and I hope we can all get behind them this Christmas.”
Oisin Geoghegan, chair of the network of Local Enterprise Offices, said: “This has been one of the most challenging years for Irish businesses in recent history."
Local Enterprise Offices have approved over 11,000 Trading Online Vouchers for small Irish businesses this year, helping them to develop or upgrade their online trading presence.
Mr Geoghegan said the aim of the campaign is to encourage more consumers and businesses to look local if they require goods or services.
"If they are looking online, we want them to see if there is someone local who can help them and to try to support the small businesses and jobs in their local communities."
"Small businesses across the country have had to pivot or change their models during this year and now more than ever they deserve our support," he said.
A recent iReach survey of 1,000 Irish shoppers found that a third of shoppers plan to buy Christmas gifts from stores or online retailers during the Black Friday promotions this year, with 11% planning to buy gifts on Cyber Monday. However, with lockdown restrictions not expected to be for most retail outlets until next week, most stores will have to rely on online shoppers this year.
Lorraine Higgins, chief executive Digital Business Ireland (DBI), said many retailers and businesses have invested in their ecommerce infrastructure during the pandemic to ensure they have an online trading capability.
"We are appealing to people to shop on .IE websites, do a deep dive of Google searches and the products for sale on online marketplaces and ensure they are supporting businesses located here," she said.
A recent report compiled by DBI in conjunction with .IE found that 47% of Irish consumers online spend during the Covid-19 pandemic was fulfilled by businesses operating outside of Ireland, with the remaining 53% of consumer spend benefitting Irish SMEs. 67% of those buying from SMEs said they did so out of a sense of solidarity.
Ms Higgins said the vast majority of shoppers want to support Irish businesses and tapping into this sense of patriotism for the economic good of the country is crucial.
“There are many benefits from clicking green and supporting businesses in Ireland from a trust, safety and price transparency which is not always the case with international sellers,” Ms. Higgins said, and by 'clicking green' and buying nearby, “you will be helping the recovery of businesses, protecting jobs and communities at a time of great difficulty.”
Despite the focus on shopping local this year, the iReach survey also found Amazon is still the top brand that comes to mind for Black Friday deals with almost half (44%) of us expecting to shop with the online giant over the Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend.
Head of Business Banking at permanent tsb, Mags Brennan said they are asking people to think before they click and ensure they are supporting local businesses, many of whom have transformed their businesses models during the pandemic to offer a high-quality service ahead of the festive season.
Data from AIB shows that on Black Friday last year, its Irish customers carried out more than one million transactions, spending €4,500 a minute on clothing alone. A 364% increase compared to a normal day.
Rachel Naughton, Head of SME at AIB said “Our data shows that consumers are spending large amounts of money online every minute of the day during Black Friday, which presents Irish businesses with a unique opportunity during this difficult period.”