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Shoppers urged to ‘think Irish’ in online spending spree

As television, radio and print ads will tell you – Black Friday sales are already well underway in many retailers.

A US phenomenon which made its way to Ireland after the financial crisis, Black Friday is said to mark the formal start of the Christmas shopping period.

Given Covid-19 restrictions, that is likely to be more online-based than ever – meaning international retailers like Amazon and Asos may have the edge on local firms.

However a number of campaigns have started up to try to encourage people to spend their digital euros in Ireland – something that may have benefits beyond simply helping local businesses.

“When you buy locally, it’s sustainable – it’s a great way of making sure that your carbon footprint is kept down,” said Niall Bodkin, managing director of the eCommerce Association of Ireland.

“There’s also a lot of extra service, and that personal touch that buying locally can have. When you buy online locally you’ve somewhere real to go to – or there’s someone at the end of the phone,” he said.

To help retailers here get on shoppers’ radar, the eCAI has set up – which offers a directory of Irish shops that are selling online.

Mr Bodkin hopes it can act as a one-stop shop for people looking to spend their money within the country.

“What we do is put them on a directory, just to let people know they’re there – because in a lot of cases they might not have known about them,” he said. “The product choice might not have been there five or six years ago but it is now. We’re blown away by the products that are out there.”

Irish retailers had traditionally lagged behind their international peers in terms of getting online, however the pandemic has forced many to move forward at a far faster pace than they might otherwise have planned.

According to Mr Bodkin, nearly 10,000 businesses have come online this year – facilitated by technology that is easier to use than ever.

But for those that are still in the early stages of moving online – or yet to make any digital dive – Mr Bodkin encourages caution, and advises firms to seek advice from their industry peers.

“Don’t rush, take your time, talk to your peers, find good examples of websites that are out there, and find good advice,” he said.

“We want to get the community together online, and then we’re going to get together and offer a real alternative to buying from abroad.”

Meanwhile, thousands of retailers and makers across the country are calling on shoppers to turn Black Friday green, later this month, in a bid to stem the closure of small businesses and to protect jobs.

Organisers of the Champion Green initiative say shopping locally on Green Friday, and keeping money within local communities, is the best Christmas gift possible for the 40% of workers in Ireland who lost jobs because of Covid.

“Right across the country small businesses are struggling,” said Ian Talbot, Chief Executive of Chambers Ireland, which is supporting Champion Green.

“And, if they fail, the whole country is poorer for it, literally.  The simple act of buying gifts locally this year gives back to each and every one of us in Irish society”.

Elsewhere, Digital Business Ireland (DBI), has launched a separate campaign urging people to Click Green and Buy Nearby when shopping online for Christmas.

The campaign, being run in association with Permanent TSB aims to drive awareness of the importance of supporting businesses in Ireland during a time of great disruption.

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