‘My first customer spent €1,000’: Successful reopening for Cork traders

Cork Business Association predicts greater pick-up when hospitality opens next month

Patrick Street, Cork. File photograph: Getty Images

Patrick Street, Cork. File photograph: Getty Images


Traders in Cork have reported a positive start to reopening with a variety of businesses all expressing satisfaction with the amount of people returning to shop.

Cork Business Association Chairman Eoin O’Sullivan said that from soundings among the association’s 250 or so members, there had been a very positive response to shops and businesses being able to reopen after almost five months in lockdown.

“It’s been very positive, I was in the city myself today and there were a lot of people out and about – it’s been a very successful reopening – the weather took a turn at lunch hour but over all there was a great atmosphere around the city.

“And people were really happy with the figures and the support they’ve received so hopefully it’s a sign of things to come and leading into a solid get-back-to-business feel for Cork city with hospitality on the way as well.

“Initially you are going to have that pent-up demand and see a bit of surge in the city but once we get hospitality reopened, I think it will be another lift because people do like doing their shopping and getting their cup of coffee.

“It goes hand and hand and there’s a bit of a synergy between the two – hospitality is next to come back with on-street dining and then back to full dining indoors to give that full experience to customers coming into Cork.”

Among the traders welcoming back customers was Joan Lucey of Vibes and Scribes who saw both her bookshop and her wool and fabric shop experience some brisk business early this morning.

“I was both excited and nervous at the same time at the thought of welcoming customers back but it’s great to see them coming through the doors – we weren’t run off our feet but there was a bit of rush in the beginning alright.

“People were very enthusiastic and upbeat but they seem to know what they want, they’re coming in and getting what they want and they were gone again – they are not hanging around too long,” she said.

According to Ms Lucey, both her wool and fabric shop on Bridge Street and her bookshop on Lavitt’s Quay were reporting steady and solid business all through the day.

“We had a good few people browsing in the bookshop but generally people seemed focussed – they are not hanging around too long, it looks that they have a mission, they know what they want and they buy it and leave.”

Ms Lucey said that in contrast to Christmas, people this time around are used to mask-wearing and social distancing and she expects people will be more comfortable than at Christmas when there was more of a rush to buy presents.

“We’ve a lot of long-standing loyal customers and when we opened after the last lockdown, they couldn’t get in fast enough so I think we’ll have a lot of people and they’re more than welcome to both our book shop and craft shop.

“But it’s not just about the business side of things – it’s also about helping to restore some sort of normality so we can start to move forward and hopefully start to put Covid-19 behind us and we’re very happy to be part of that.”

Eddie Mullins of Fitzgerald’s Menswear on Patrick Street was similarly happy with the steady flow of customers who appeared equally glad to be able to shop again.

“It’s gone better than expected and it’s given us great hope because it was a bit of an unknown really but there was a little bit of confusion because there wasn’t that big boom announcement that you can go back to the shops.

“But it’s been brisk and it’s coming in waves – we were very busy from 9am to 11am and then there was a bit of lull period until midday and it picked up again but what’s noticeable is that people are not price sensitive,” he said

“My first customer spent €1,000 and we saw the same at Christmas when we came out of lockdown where people were free spending – people want a good thing so there was no real talk about price.

“People were looking for things they had before – something with a bit of quality, say a Meyer trouser, an Olymp shirt, a Feraud suit and also the service aspect was very important, people coming in looking for advice.”

Mr Mullins said that the staff in Fitzgerald Menswear were very conscious of the need to adhere to the guidelines so everyone wears masks, customers are encouraged to sanitise their hands and maintain social distance in the shop.

“It’s quite a big shop with a natural movement down one side and up and out the other but we all have masks, sanitation by the door and people are taking a lot of responsibility for their own actions and their own social distancing.

“We envisage that we will be masked for the foreseeable future – we have kept our cleaning regime – we are still conscious this is a live situation we are glad to be back open but we are respecting the protocols that are in place.”