Tuesday, December 02, 2014

ONLINE shopping is slowly but surely living up to its potential. Most young people now prefer to purchase online rather than go to the trouble of visiting the local retailer, picking out the item and paying for it.

Ask frequent internet users and they will all tell you it is the ease with which they can purchase – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – which is what they find appealing.

But should that be the end of it? I don’t think so. What about all the jobs that will be lost if the local retailer goes out of business? I have purchased items online, and most internet users have probably done likewise, but when it is all said and done, you cannot beat the human interaction that takes place, or the care some retailers go to retaining customers.

I am not an easy person to please. For starters, I have difficulty finding something in my size. I know I am not small and cannot remember the day when I fitted into a medium, or even a large-sized item. But that doesn’t matter, because years of visiting Macs Menswear has resulted in Declan and everyone else in the shop knowing my size and what items I would or wouldn’t wear.

Last week, they even phoned to make me aware that items they know I would be interested in had arrived. I don’t care how convenient online shopping is, there is nothing to replace that kind of service.

But, unfortunately, it would appear that good service, keen pricing and longer opening hours – everything the Carlow retailer is offering to the discerning shopper – is not enough for the growing online brigade.

Last Friday was labelled Black Friday, with retailers all over the country trying their best to create a bit of pre-Christmas buzz. Yes, the traditional date of 8 December is still a good day for retailers – as are the last few in the run-up to the big day itself – but what they make now has to carry them through too many months of very little activity in their stores until the summer comes along.

The economy is on the up, but every little helps. And in fairness to the local traders, they deserve to get a little bit of good cheer for a change.

Anyone involved in the retail sector has gone through absolute torture over the past seven years, and now, with the economy on the upturn – at least if you believe all the stories floating about – they deserve to get a little bit back.

We all like to travel to different towns to have a look around to see if there is a bargain to be had, but please, as I have done in previous years, I would appeal to you, that when splashing out this Christmas, make sure the bulk of it is spent at home.

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By Michael Godfrey
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