PAUL O’BRIEN: Adapt to late night shopping like our Irish neighbours

Paul O'Brien
Paul O'Brien

I was extremely lucky to be able to spend a few days in Sligo, western Ireland, last weekend, and whenever I get to visit other areas I’m always fascinated by how they do retail.

We stayed in a small village ten minutes from Sligo town with just a handful of shops and three pubs.

I must admit that the welcoming nature and hospitality of the Irish people puts us all to shame.

They genuinely can’t do enough for you.

Their passion for their small shops when serving customers was a lesson in first class customer service.

We also popped into the slightly larger Sligo town and, with a population of just 20,000 (a fifth of Worthing’s size), it was a mesmerising experience.

This truly was small independents at their best.

Almost every shop, apart from the odd Next and HMV, was a sole trader.

The butchers, bakers, independent book shops –you name it, there was shop for it.

Again hospitality and product knowledge, alongside a good old Irish welcome, made the shopping experience a complete pleasure instead of a chore.

When we made our way in at around 7pm on the Saturday evening, to find some food and a few pints of the black stuff, I was also amazed to find all these shops still open and bustling.

In a country that is staunchly religious they have embraced and adapted to new unsociable trading hours in a way that I wasn’t expecting.

You can have the best products in the world but if you’re not open when the customer wants it then you won’t last long in the retail trade. Which leads me nicely on to looking at how we can become a more vibrant town by pushing for a late night shopping day once a week.

If we could offer free parking and all the big stores became involved, we would be striking a firm challenge to the out-of-town dreary retail parks and the high street’s biggest contender, internet shopping.

It would also create more jobs and keep the local economy flourishing.

I would love to hear from the Herald readers if this is something that they would embrace for sunny Worthing?

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