Christmas will be tougher this year for many people, especially those who have suffered income drops. There is a gloom in the air and the spirit of Christmas is harder to locate.
That being so, and given the job losses in the local area, it is more important than ever to keep the money at home this year. We have excellent choice in shopping this year because, while there have been some retail closures, a number of new stores have opened.
New shops
Last year many went to TK Maxx in Kilkenny but now they are here in Waterford. New electrical outlets like DID and Harvey Norman have opened to add to the local stores like Kelly & Dollard, Sherwood and Kavanaghs.  We may have lost John Hearn and Co from the Quay but a new store B & Q has opened from the UK offering extra value. Morris’ Woodies, Homebase add to a wide offering in this DIY area.
So we really have great choice in Waterford.  City Square is thriving as are many of the other centres like Georges Court, Ballybricken, and Ardkeen. The various streets also are offering great fare and should be explored too.
Great offers
This year there are enticing offers in many of the shops throughout the city  and county and we would urge our readers to support local business. We respectively hope that our readers will support Waterford retail this year.
We are also glad to see that a Chamber of Commerce initiative is also in place and a special Christmas festival of events, including concerts and a Santa Run, is planned with a local charity to benefit. The KRM development has now got the go ahead so this is a boost to Waterford as a retail location.
Christmas parties
Banks having Christmas staff parties have been criticised in the national media and there seems to be a new puritan spirit hitting the country suggesting that we should not spend money and only buy what is necessary.  This is almost a volte face shift from where we were two years ago when we were into the extravagant year of the Celtic Tiger.
Last year Waterford traders complained that too many consumers spent their money in the likes of Kilkenny, Cork, Dublin or abroad in the run up to Christmas.
Well, shopping trips to New York will definitely be out for most people this year!  A one day trip to Dublin or Cork to see the Christmas lights may be managed but there will be no big splurge in these places either.

Help local traders

Playing their part in restoring Christmas as a spiritual season, the churches will have special concerts more so than in other years. And, of course, there will be Christmas movies in the cinemas and at Garter Lane there will be the usual Christmas Fair.  We would appeal to people and traders to make a special effort this year and try and lift the pervading gloom.
Children have learned about the word recession, but we are not in as bad a shape as some commentators make out. We are not back in the thirties. Some folk may be over stretched but, overall, there will still be gifts purchased for family and friends, maybe not as expensive but still people must be remembered.
The Government should be giving people more encouragement to spend and not be too tight.  Over in Britain, they are cutting VAT to try and give retailers a lift. The reduction of 2 per cent for 6 months is to stave off job losses. What a contrast compared to Ireland where we will raise it by 0.5 per cent in January. The differential is now 6.5 per cent.
Reduce VAT for December
Admittedly, we pay no commercial rates on houses which in Britain can amount to £2,000 a year depending on where one lives although they do get better council facilities as a result.
Some bold initiative may be needed to get people to loosen their pockets. If the Government gave a VAT cut for the month of December it could give trade a big lift. Think about it Mr Lenihan, it is worth a small gamble. Charlie McCreevy, if he were still Minister for Finance, would probably do it but, there again, he doesn’t think like a lawyer or accountant even though he is an accountant! Traders could make a good profit in the final month and be able to afford their taxes in the coming year. Temporary staff could even be needed in shops.