Judging by some anecdotal evidence so far, Waterford city seems to be doing better than expected in the run up to Christmas, in terms of shoppers, even though spend will be down, due to less money in the economy.
Footfall or numbers of shoppers on the streets seems higher this year and we note from a Chamber of Commerce that the parking initiative of two hours free is proving successful. This allows reduced cost parking in the morning time, when it is half price. If this could be extended to include part of the afternoon in the coming year it could further boost trade in the city centre.
The re-opening of Penneys in Barronstrand St. has given the city a major lift noted one hotelier, who has seen his lunchtime trade, after the return of Penneys from its temporary position at Railway Square.
The flooding of Cork city centre proved to be a deterrent for shoppers going there, although Dublin still has its attractions.
There seems to be a renewed pride to shop local and the Chamber of commerce and local traders campaign to make this a Waterford city Christmas seems to be working.
Our distance from Northern Ireland means that a day trip there for shopping is out of the question, a great problem for the counties near the border areas, where shops are giving sterling euro parity offers in various Northern towns.
Over a year ago there was a feeling that congestion and high parking costs, as well as the danger of picking up a parking ticket was putting people off going into the centre, now that has turned.
The opening of the new bridge means that heavy trucks passing through Waterford county are bypassing the quays if going to Cork or Rosslare. This has reduced congestion and with cheaper parking the car parks have noticeably been busier.
Having TK Maxx and Harvey Norman on the outskirts has also meant that there are less people going to Kilkenny this year, when TK was a big draw over a few years ago, better traffic flows on the Ring Road has also helped.
The Chamber of Commerce and City Council must be complemented for their efforts and the Christmas entertainment programme organised, see our Christmas supplement for details.
Pay Talks Fail
Could this be Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s last Christmas in office, many seem to think so. His lack of leadership and failure in the pay talks as well as a revolt by the back benchers against the public service leave proposal in lieu of pay cuts seems to be very ominous.
The Government appears to be a staggering person at the moment, not knowing what to do next, a tough budget but a lack of resolution of the public finances.
Dismays many people
Change is needed if the Taoiseach is too exhausted by the process of leading Government and not doing enough, then it is time to make way for someone more decisive.
They could hardly fight an election after such a debacle as last week.
The cabinet pay cuts may create some confidence back in the running of the Country on a day to day basis.
How about also getting rid of the Garda driven Ministerial cars and getting the Garda drivers back in the force, they are surely needed. Why do ex Taoisigh need Garda drivers, now that the Troubles are over, time to remove that perk too.
We should model ourselves on what the neutral Scandinavians do and not have pay levels at the rates of the USA. Political pay levels have to come down more as do expenses so people feel the pain is being shared.
The public pay problem is getting closer to a resolution but the government needs to lead more, after all the cheques are paid by them.
Further dithering will not impress foreign lenders, who might lose patience, as we borrow €400 million a week to keep everything going.