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CORK city is still unique in that small, family-owned businesses are able to survive alongside the multiple stores. But for how much longer?
These small retail stores often provide a more professional service than the larger shops, but the main disadvantage is that they do not have the flexibility of being able to rotate their staff with part-timers because their service is more specialised.
The increasing pressure that the foreign multiples are putting on our independent retailers reached a new low this year with the decision by many of them to open on St Stephens’s day.
It is very frustrating when someone in an office in Oxford Street in London can make such a decision, which can affect the way we live our lives in Ireland.
I don’t have any problem with the competition these stores bring to our country. I think the more competition, the better and the shopper benefits in the long run from lower prices. But competition is one thing and greed is a different matter. Family life has always been treasured in Ireland, especially at Christmas. People work hard in the lead-up during December and the traditional two days off are very welcome – but not any longer.
In Italy and Spain, the opening hours and “sale” periods for retailers are restricted by legislation. Family life is protected and, as a result, the independent retailers are able to cope without the extra pressure that working unsocial hours brings. In these countries, the main streets of the cities have a much better blend of shops than British high streets where one city is the same as the next. This legislation will have to be introduced in Ireland.
Con Murphy’s Menswear will not be open on St Stephens’s day.
60 Patrick Street
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