With all this talk about #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday the annual festive panic buying as if the world is going to end on December 25th appears to be moving online to a greater extent with each passing year. It’s particularly worrying in an Irish context. Not least because of the economic health of rural Ireland, but more so because only about 3 out of every 10 retailers in Ireland can handle online commerce.

Just under 70 per cent of Irish SMEs will miss out on the cyber uplift of the past week as a result of not being able to take sales orders online, according to a report published by IE Domain Registry, the company that manages and maintains Ireland’s country domain, .ie.

Its even more frightening when you consider Irish consumers expect that 62pc of their Black Friday/Cyber Monday spend will be transacted online.

According to IE Domain Registry’s SME Digital Health Index 2019, which analyses Irish SMEs and consumers’ attitudes to digital technology, only 32pc of Irish SMEs’ websites allow them to take sales orders or process transactions.

That means with each passing year the connection with bricks and mortar businesses is receding. I sat beside a local authority official recently at a social function and asked how entrepreneurs can compete with online retail giants when they have to a) purchase and decorate their properties and b) pay rates, local taxes and ongoing running costs that some of these internet based businesses don’t have? Still waiting on an answer on that one.

As spending habits become more digital a number of certainties await rural Ireland. If business don’t enable some form of web based ordering or product sales they will find it ever harder to keep the doors open. One of the reasons people like transacting on the web is because it’s time efficient. But businesses that don’t adapt are staring at a financial abyss. That’s a prospect even for those that DO enable web commerce but still can’t sell at the wafer thin margins that huge internet businesses can offer.

The other equally concerning social cost is what WILL be on Ireland’s regional streets when it becomes economically unviable for more and more of these shops to trade? More betting shops? Vacant commercial property? A major rethink is needed by government and local authorities to give traders a break.

Looking at this type of economic future is not exactly a heartwarming prospect heading into the season of goodwill, particularly when you consider many regional towns are ALREADY economically decimated.

Tipperary town is a prime example and there are scores of others around the country. So here’s an idea. What about making this coming weekend #indeeweekend?

In other words, support an independent business involving people you know. It could be a gift for a loved one or a coffee shop where you actually KNOW the owner!

FYI this is a great one in the big smoke. Tell Donal I sent you!

So what about it? Heading out this weekend make it a #indeeweekend and support someone you know!

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Posted in Ballywire News.