We are writing this leader on Cyber Monday, one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, as shoppers the world over search for value and variety in the run up to Christmas.

This year, Communications Minister Denis Naughten is encouraging small businesses to seize this moment to diversify their market and also trade on line and get customers outside Ireland too.

However, we firmly believe that we need to shop local and support local businesses in Waterford and across the south east when it comes to our big festive purchases.

Surveys show that 40 per cent of online shopping in Ireland goes outside the country. With that in mind, it is very important that we support local shops, and we ought to do all we can to encourage younger shoppers to sent their Euros into local tills.

Granted, that is no easy task in an age where debit and credit cards are so readily available, and shopping lists can be ticked off via Smartphones and tablets. Why financially support major British and American companies when you can help keep a friend, neighbour or local in a job? Price is not everything.

Local traders are doing their best to match online prices and they can also send goods to friends and relations abroad, while some are themselves offering online options.

Following the release of the CSO retail sales figures for October as we went to press, ISME, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, has encouraged Irish consumers to buy local and support indigenous SMEs when shopping for Christmas.

ISME reminded consumers that buying goods produced, manufactured and sold locally is the easiest way to support the Irish economic recovery.

Retail sales figures for October show an annual increase of 4.1% in volume and 2.2% in value. When motor sales are excluded there was a 3.8% increase in volume and 1.8% increase in value in the year. The monthly figures show a decrease of 0.3% in volume, and 0.4% in value.

Said ISME CEO Neil McDonnell: “Irish consumers need to support retailers and local businesses. The devaluation of sterling is having an impact on sales and on consumer sentiment. With cross-border shopping on the increase and consumer sentiment at a 20-month low, Irish consumers need to get behind and support Irish businesses. The continued monthly decline in volume and value is a matter of concern.”

The social element of shopping is also worth encouraging, and if the start of Winterval on Friday last offers any indication, retailers may be in for a happy Christmas season.

There was a great turnout for the launch of Winterval, marked by the turning of the Christmas lights launch, with shops in the city reporting brisk business over the weekend. Winterval is well worthy of our support so let’s all play our part when it comes to shopping local.

Great uncertainty lies ahead, given the pending Trump Presidency in the US, the weakness of Sterling and the many unanswered questions about Brexit. The stability of our own Government also appears far from watertight.

It may be a case of very much repeating the obvious, but we know as a business that we depend on local traders, their advertising and their ongoing encouragement of local traditions.

So let’s shop and support local for the betterment of the community at large, and we would heartily encourage readers to support our advertisers.

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