by Rose Barrett
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Retail and hospitality sectors report pre-riot highs with mega-spend set to continue right up to Christmas Eve

Retail and hospitality figures are buoyant, with Dublin trade bouncing back after the initial impact of the horrendous riots and looting on November 23 last.

Following the stabbings on Parnell Square on Thursday 23, the city centre was overcome with looters and rioters who brought trade and transport to a standstill.

However, Richard Guiney, CEO of Dublin Town reported that while footfall was down approximately 20 per cent on the weekend following the violent riots, it has since bounced back – and was even up 8pc last Sunday when compared to the same day last year.

Thanks to a strong and visible garda presence throughout the city, shoppers and locals can feel safe again. He further added that city traders are even hopeful of a bumper Christmas – and will achieve pre-Covid levels.

Eamonn Scully, proprietor of Gardiner Lodge guest house reports that the upmarket accommodation facility has not been adversely impacted by the recent riots in Dublin City.

“We’re open now about seven years and are close to 100 per cent occupancy at the moment. Bookings are solid for Christmas and New Year and thankfully, the recent violence and looting in the city hasn’t impacted on our business at all. We are back to pre-Covid occupancy levels.”

Brian Moloney of The Celtic Lodge guest house and the very popular pub, The Celt located on Talbot Street, similarly relates that business is literally booming.

“The pub and pub food were never busier, we are flying with Christmas bookings, business lunches and festive get-togethers.  And Christmas bookings for the guest house are booming.”

Mr Scully acknowledged that in July last, following the attack on American Stephen Termini,  the business saw bookings by American tourists cancelled in the short term only. “So it is important to portray Dublin city as a safe tourist and entertainment destination.”

Lord Mayor of Dublin, Daithí de Róiste, similarly noted the positive impact of garda numbers on the streets in recent weeks, and added, he counted 19 members of the force on Grafton Street last week.

While figures released by Bank of Ireland (BOI) showed that individual personal card spend was down by 46pc in Dublin 1 and 2 on Black Friday following the riots, AIB data predicts the bumper spend this year will happen on Saturday, December 23.

AIB reported the busiest time of the year for spending in store was between 12pm and 1pm on December 23 last year – with over €12m spent in that hour alone!  The data reveals our neighbours in Wicklow, Kildare and Meath spent the most using bank cards both in stores and online. While December 8 has been traditionally ‘the farmer’s shopping day’ in Dublin, there was no significant increase in spending noted in the city centre this year, or recent years. With improved transport and parking, the rural surge on the city for the big Christmas spend is likely to occur next weekend or indeed, right up to and including December 23.

Interestingly the data provided by AIB show that for pubs, the busiest day of the holiday season was also Friday December 23 2022 with €5.2m spent in total. Men spent almost twice as much as women (€3.4m compared to €1.8m) with Saturday December 17 seeing a spendof €4.8m in pubs,  followed by New Year’s Eve with €4.3m.

December 23 is the busiest day of the year for grocery shopping in store, with spending 191 per cent higher than the average day in 2022.  Despite the rise in online shopping, Irish people are still choosing to do their Christmas grocery shop[in store (93pc in store compared to 7pc online).

So, it’s not only the sleigh bells that are expected to ring over the coming 11 days till Christmas. Dublin has bounced back and retailers can look forward to the tills ringing as a mega festive spend continues right up to Christmas Eve – bumper business for retailers and the hospitality sector.

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