Enniskillen retailers are looking forward to a busy Christmas season despite the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Impartial Reporter took a walk-up the town and spoke to some business owners and some shoppers to see how they are feeling about the High Street, the £100 shop local voucher and the future of shopping local.

More choice

Young people try to shop local but are seeking a diversification of the High Street.

16-year-old Enniskillen Royal Grammar School students, Nicole McCordick and Charlotte Evans enjoy shopping in the town after school once a week.

“There are a good variety of shops in Erneside and in the town and there are a lot of good places for food like Little Wings or the little cafes down the town,”they said.

Both would like to see more shops for a younger clientele in town, with Charlotte adding: “The town is 50/50 in terms of people. I think it is more aimed at older people. I’d like Primark to come.”

Teething Issues

Shop owners are encountering some teething issues in relation to the delivery of their stock.

“Our big issue at the minute is getting stock in, normally we would get a lot of our Christmas stock over the summertime but its landing now,” Julie Kenwell, of Osborne & Co said. When asked the reason that this might be, she said: “It’s Brexit, it’s Covid, it’s the Suez Canal, all these things are having a huge impact now. Everything that has happened in the last 20 months is having an impact on business now. Even the shortage of lorry drivers that’s having an impact too.”

She did add, however, that the shop has been busy with people spending their vouchers and holding items over.

‘Bit of a rash decision’

Stuart Rainey, Enniskillen and Raquel McDonagh, Fivemiletown were out shopping. Stuart had received his shop local voucher earlier that afternoon, and had it spent by the time he spoke to this newspaper.

“I got mine today, it was a bit of a rash decision, I had only had it a couple of hours, but I spent it in Erneside.”

Raquel added: “I’m dying to get mine, I was going to do presents but I am going to buy a jacket I like instead I think.”

Both aim to try and shop local.

“We normally try to go into town and around the shopping centre once a month. It is better to support local and to shop online, especially when you’re in local you can try it on, and it’s a hassle to send stuff back,” commented Stuart.

Spending local

The excitement of the spend local voucher was emphasised as businesses had customers in using the voucher as they enjoyed their shopping.

Simon Kennedy, SD Kells has had “quite a few customers” in using voucher.

“We have had quite a few people in the door, people are pleased to have them and people are treating themselves.

“Maybe people will start Christmas shopping a bit earlier, if they are coming into the town, what for can you ask for,” he said.

Bounce back

Elsewhere Aidan Clifford and Richard McDowell, Graham Enniskillen spoke about a noticeable bounce back in terms of shopping local and shopping independent.

Aidan said: “The bounce back of Covid is that people are actually shopping independent instead of the multinational.”

Both welcomed the Public Realm Scheme works. “The town reconstructing and the footpaths are great, it [the public realm scheme] enhances the town,” said Aidan before adding: “Because we have a beautiful area with long established independent stores and with the wider footpaths people are more inclined to browse.”

Busier than ever

Katie Kennedy, Fermanagh Cottage Industries was out with her daughter Scarlett after a busy day in the shop.

“We have had a lot of new customers with the staycations because people are coming into town and they are finding quirky new shops that a lot of people will say, there are no shops like this anymore.”

“There is a lot more people shopping local, we are busier this year than we were two years ago and two years ago I would have said we were busy, but we are busier than ever.”

Buzz in town

Welcoming the buzz in the town centre, Noelle McAloon, Enniskillen BID said: “Enniskillen BID seeS the huge potential with the High Street voucher scheme and we are supporting the Enniskillen businesses to encourage all residents to shop local.

“The High Street vouchers will boost the economy prior to Christmas but it also has the potential to show consumers that prefer to shop online that our high streets offer so much more in terms of experience and consumer care.

“If consumers need ideas of where to spend their cards they can always get inspiration from the Enniskillen Gift Card and our registered businesses.

“This scheme can only have a lasting legacy if people make the choice to shop local so we in BID are very much saying spend it in Enniskillen,” added Noelle.