Lead­ing re­tail­ers sat­is­fied with ‘calm’ re­turn to trad­ing

The Irish Times - - Home News - CONOR POPE Con­sumer Af­fairs Cor­re­spon­dent

Some lead­ing re­tail out­lets are qui­etly sat­is­fied with how the weeks of trad­ing have gone since the phased exit from the lock­down started.

While foot­fall is down and queues are still form­ing, money is be­ing spent in a “calm at­mos­phere”, they say.

When Ikea re­opened in early June, the queues stretched over 1km and many peo­ple stood in line for more than two hours be­fore be­ing al­lowed en­ter.

There are still queues at peak times but noth­ing like what they were. The re­tailer’s mar­ket­ing man­ager, Mar­tyn Allen, said new safety mea­sures, in­clud­ing a one-way sys­tem, stag­gered en­try, re­stricted num­bers and so­cial dis­tance war­dens to help cus­tomers find their way around, have “made for a calm at­mos­phere”.

He said the re­stric­tions “do mean that there can be a queue of 30-45 min­utes” but added that cus­tomers had been “very un­der­stand­ing of all the nec­es­sary mea­sures we have put in place” and he said the queue was usu­ally short­est for peo­ple who come first thing in the morn­ing.

Since re­open­ing, Ikea has seen par­tic­u­lar de­mand for stor­age items, sum­mer fur­ni­ture,

pots and pans, can­dles and pic­ture frames. Mr Allen added that the “one thing cus­tomers are re­ally miss­ing is our res­tau­rant and our meat­balls in par­tic­u­lar”!

Foot­fall in the Dun­drum Town Cen­tre has been sta­ble and on an up­ward tra­jec­tory since it re­opened in the mid­dle of June and while peo­ple are spend­ing less time in the cen­tre, they are spend­ing more

money while there.

“Dwell time is shorter [but] con­ver­sion and trans­ac­tion val­ues have in­creased,” said the cen­tre’s manag­ing di­rec­tor Don Nu­gent. “We have about 90 per cent of our re­tail­ers now open, which is great.”

He said the restau­rants were feel­ing “very sup­ported by cus­tomers so far this week, with a strong start”.

He said the num­bers were not at last year’s level “par­tic­u­larly in light of ca­pac­ity re­stric­tions” but added that was not “a cause for con­cern”.

“Our pri­or­ity has been to al­low re­tail­ers and cus­tomers to ease back in. We have held off on any events or pro­mo­tional ac­tiv­ity as our fo­cus is on en­sur­ing peo­ple are com­fort­able be­ing back in a re­tail en­vi­ron­ment,” Mr Nu­gent said.

He said gift card sales had proved to be par­tic­u­larly strong since the cen­tre re­opened, with a new gift card kiosk for self-ser­vice trans­ac­tions at­tract­ing high vol­umes of cus­tomers.

This week the cen­tre rolled out a new fea­ture on its web­site called crowd checker which al­lows cus­tomers to see how busy the cen­tre is in real time in or­der to help them plan their visit. The fea­ture will show cus­tomers a busy sta­tus but will not share any num­bers on oc­cu­pancy or foot­fall.

Last Mon­day, phase three re­stric­tions were lifted across the State and the num­ber of busi­nesses now open in Dublin has climbed to al­most 80 per cent.

When the ini­tial re­tail re­stric­tions were lifted in early June, the city cen­tre was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an av­er­age daily foot­fall of ap­prox­i­mately 162,000, a num­ber which has climbed to more than 200,000 per day this week.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: ALAN BETSON

Mask-wear­ing man­nequins in the win­dow of Mon­aghans on South Anne Street in Dublin yes­ter­day.

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