82% of Irish consumers are now more likely to buy local, either online or in-store, this year, compared to 2019.
New research (of over 1,900 people) carried out by Amarach and the Local Enterprise Offices as part of their “Look for Local” campaign shows that:
* 84% of people surveyed say they are more likely to shop locally online this year.
* 80% said they would look to support local in-store.
* 85% felt more local businesses were trading online than in 2019, while 83% plan to support more local businesses in 2021.
An increase but the application process needs work
As the 2020 pandemic shuttered local stores nationwide, the Local Enterprise Offices approved over 11,000 trading online vouchers during the year. Many retailers and prospective online traders, however, were not able to avail of the online trading vouchers before the summer of 2020. Vouchers remain difficult to come by and the application process is cumbersome, fraught with ‘blind spots’ and piecemeal at best according to reports.
The €2,500 voucher aims to help small businesses to get established online or improve an existing online presence. However, much needs to be done to bring the application and approval process into the 21st Century.
A little bit done but a lot more to do
The ‘Look for Local’ hub on LocalEnterprise.ie/LookforLocal now has over 4,200 businesses listed from a range of sectors. People can find local businesses to support. Just over 4,000 businesses is a drop in the ocean for what is needed to compete with big international retailers. With Brexit and what is likely to happen to Amazon’s prices, this is a significant opportunity for the Irish government and Leo Varadkar’s department to step up and support Irish retailers in a more fluid and agile way, with less red tape and antiquated thinking.
The questions needed to be asked are: Who thought of this application process and why? Can someone make the user experience better?
Irish retailers are resilient but they need support now
“Small businesses have risen to the challenge of trading during Covid. Many changed their business models, created new products and gone above and beyond to maintain links with their customers. This is a testament to their resilience, and now their local customers are backing them,” says Minister for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD.
“We have helped over 11,000 businesses this year with Trading Online Vouchers, and they can now trade 24-hours a day as opposed to just 9 am to 6 pm. Hopefully, this continues long into 2021 and beyond,” says Oisin Geoghegan, Chair of the network of Local Enterprise Offices.
This will depend on the application process and the willingness by government agencies to cut the red tape, which is baffling and disappointing to most retailers who apply.
For more information on the ‘Look for Local’ campaign, go to www.LocalEnterprise.ie/LookforLocal and check out the hashtag #LookforLocal on social media.
If you wish to try for an online trading voucher from your Local Enterprise Office, please go here.