Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment Louise O’Reilly TD has said that reimagining and repurposing our towns and cities is key to the future of retail.
She further called on the government to stop using the changing retail landscape as an excuse to do nothing to secure the future of the sector.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“There is no doubt that there are changes in the retail landscape that pose threats to traditional bricks and mortar stores, and to our towns and cities.
“Online shopping is here and enjoyed by many, but that cannot mean that traditional retail and our towns and cities are abandoned in the process. The government must stop using the changing retail landscape as an excuse to do nothing to secure the future of the sector.
“After we exit the Covid crisis, if we want to get people back into our towns and cities and engaging with retail and hospitality services, then we have to offer people a greater experience. We have to make people want to spend time in our towns and cities, to enjoy themselves, and to spend money in retail and hospitality.
“It is utterly disheartening that every time there is a body blow to retail in this state that the person responsible for the sector, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, just holds his hands up and says ‘retail is changing’.
“There is scope for the government to work with communities, with local politicians, and with business to make our towns and cities exciting and enjoyable places for people to spend their time.
“We need to ensure our towns and cities offer people a great experience, and that means a relaxed atmosphere, pedestrianised streets to stroll peacefully through and look in shop windows and pop in and out of shops.
“We need outdoor dining and drinking spaces, we need true public spaces where people can relax, we need outdoor and indoor markets, we need public space for arts and culture, we need public toilets, and we need to make sure our towns and cities cater for those who live there.
“If we make our towns and cities are enjoyable and exciting places, then more people will be willing to visit more often and spend time enjoying themselves. By extension, more people will be willing to spend in our shops, pubs, and restaurants, which will create jobs and keep money in the local economy.
“Retail is changing, but that does not mean that politicians should abandon traditional retail by doing nothing. There is scope here to reimagine and repurpose our towns and cities in a bid to secure the future of retail.”