High street chains fail to contribute to city’s festive decorations

The large retail chains and high street British stores are ‘Scrooge-like’ in not contributing to the cost of Christmas in Galway, a city councillor has claimed.

This means that the cost of putting up and taking down the outdoor Christmas lights and decorations in the city centre is burdened on the ‘old reliable’ family-run shops and small businesses.

“It’s not fair,” said Labour’s Niall McNelis.

“The big brand shops and well-known retailers aren’t contributing to the cost of Christmas in our city. Yes, they are paying commercial rates but when it comes to contributing to extra activities, that makes Galway a better place to do shopping in, such as contributing towards the cost of putting up and taking down Christmas lights, then these big brand retailers are found wanting,” he said.

Cllr McNelis – who owns Claddagh and Celtic Jewellers at Quay Lane – said the ‘usual suspects’ are once again being asked to dig deep into their pockets to fund things like Christmas lights.

“It costs €30,000 to install and take down the Christmas lights in the Latin Quarter, for example. Similar costs are incurred in Woodquay and along Shop Street and elsewhere. And not every business is contributing to that, even though everyone benefits.

“It’s left to the same businesses, the same people, to pay for everybody else. The City Council contributes some money to the cost of purchasing lights and to maintenance, but the actual cost of putting them up falls on businesses and not everyone is paying their fair share. They are Scrooges and not contributing towards the cost of celebrating Christmas,” said Cllr McNelis.

He said often the larger chains, who don’t contribute any extra, are the ones that can offer greater discounts to customers.

“The multiples buy in bulk and can give offers like two for the price of one and so on. Smaller, family-run businesses, who are contributing money to the overall shopping experience and buzz in the city by giving money towards lights often cannot compete with those offers. I think shoppers should be aware that many of the big brands are not supportive of the cost of Christmas in the city,” he said.

Cllr McNelis said that the shops that do pay for the lights should advertise that fact. “I think maybe we could get stickers done up that retailers could put on their windows, which say ‘I’ve paid my share towards the Christmas lights’ or something to that effect, which would let customers know, and then they can decide to support those businesses who support Christmas in Galway,” he added.