An aerial view of Letterkenny town centre
More traffic travelling into the county's largest town and the prospect of a good summer of trading were some of the throughts that have focused business minds there, according to the CEO of the Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce Toni Forrester.
She told donegallive.ie that it was refreshing how business people were now talking and planning about the future, rather than dwelling on the huge challenges that the county has faced over the past 14 months.
A welcome and refreshing optimism has abounded in Donegal from Letterkenny down to Donegal Town and Ballyshannon, since Monday’s easing of Covid-19 restrictions, but a common theme was also the hope that indoor dining, coffee shops and the like which keep people in towns longer, will also need to be opened as soon they possibly can. Customers should also show patience as shops will be operating within proper and correct Covid-19 protocols and procedures.
Toni told the paper: “Letterkenny is definitely busier, you can see this with the cars coming in, as well as those taking up appointments for personal services and click and collect services. This is leading up to the bigger event on Monday. It will be wonderful to see the retail doors reopening in what has been a very long shutdown for people.”
One of the positive aspects that had occurred during lockdown was that many local business had to reinvent themselves through online services and social media, “so there was a lot of work behind the scenes on things like this to keep that connection with customers and reinforce the shop local initiative.
“Nothing beats talking directly to local customers and the social interactions means people buy differently when they are in a shop.”
She added that while some shops had been open throughout much of the pandemic, “you couldn't really call it a shopping experience”.
Donagh Keon, Chair of the Ballyshannon Business Chamber remarked on the amazing optimism that has been rekindled in his home town this week.
He told the paper: “I can say that the hairdressers, barbers and beauticians are choc-o-bloc with bookings and there is a huge level of community spirit around.
“The mood is good and shops cannot wait to reopen to the public. There is definitely more activity around the place. We are looking forward to welcoming people back into the stores next Monday. The air of optimum, even from my own experience is everywhere.
“Face-to-face customer engagement will be hugely welcomed and it is good that we will be getting back to some kind of normality.”
The Chair of the Donegal Town Business Focus Group Raymond Rooney was equally upbeat.
He said: “For the past few weeks a lot of retailers have been instore getting ready from painting to replenishing stock and merchandise, getting the stores ready for re-opening.
“We are all optimistic about a busy summer season and pent up demand.
“And what we are looking for after that is coffee shops to open and food service to open because that keeps people in town longer and indeed linger that bit longer, going from one shop to the next.
“That's very important for the rest of the town opening up as well.”
“Like everywhere else in Donegal, I think we are just excited to be able to offer that in shop experience that still is hugely important for all our customers,” Raymond added.
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