Wexford town is back in business
Wexford town has had its best Christmas trading period of the past six years, with some retailers reporting double figure increases in their turnover.
One of the big attractions this year was the very successful county council-backed Wexford Winterland festival and the opening of the ice skating rink on the Quays which Brian Byrne, from promoters Lantern.ie, said attracted 25,000 visitors to Wexford.
Brian said the skating rink had had a substantial impact on the town with retailers, cafes, restaurants and hotels all benefitting. Many town centre stores said they had picked up a lot of Sunday trade, which had increased substantially compared to last year.
County chief executive Tom Enright said the €300,000 investment in the festival, mainly funded by its sponsors in the business community, had proved a good investment and a meeting had already been held to plan the next winter festival.
Frank Hynes, from Hynes Jewellers, said Wexford town has had one of the busiest Christmas trading seasons of all time.
Michael Hayes, who has two businesses in Wexford town, O'Briens Sandwhich Bars and Eircom Meteor, said his turnover from the last week of November to the first week of January was up 14 per cent at O'Briens and nine per cent at the phone shop.
'It's the best year we have had in the last six years,' he said, attributing much of the success to the 'breath of fresh air' that is the county's new chief executive Tom Enright.
'There was a great atmosphere in the town in relation to the music and the ice rink and a lot of this is down to the new county manager to promote Wexford. He's invested in Wexford business and listened to the retailers and the Chamber,' said Michael, who employed an extra eight people over the 'holiday period'.
Madeleine Quirke, CEO of the Wexford Chamber, said she had been talking to many of the shopkeepers in the town and was 'delighted with the positive reaction'.
'I believe there much better than anticipated trading figures were reached, but at this stage it's hard to know in percentage terms. Indications are that it could be anything between two and five per cent, depending on the kind of business.
'I was speaking to my colleagues in Retail Excellent Ireland and it appears that the difficulties of the past five years are finally behind us and we can look forward to a better 2015.
'We, in the Chamber, are confident that we will see growth in the retail sector in 2015. Online trading has increased significantly and we hope to work with the traders over the coming months to encourage them to embrace new technology which, in my opinion, can only benefit their business.'
Stephen Shaw, from Shaw's Department Store, said the season was very strong.
'We are pleased with how it went and we are pleased with the level of turnover which was within our expectations,' he said.
Mr. Shaw attributed the success and level of trade to the festival and said he would like to see it return this year.
'It did the town a world of good and it was very positive to see people and families out enjoying events in the town,' he said.
'Positive, positive, positive,' was the reaction from Catherine Jordan, from Westgate Design, who said her turnover was up more than 10 per cent over the festive period.
'It is very positive and people were in great form. The Chamber did a great job with lighting and there was a real festival feel on the street. The (free) parking helped too and attracted people to Wexford from other towns,' she said.