Shoppers will have spent more than €120 million in Galway City over the Christmas and January sales – just marginally up on what was spent during the same period last year.
Footfall was definitely up in the city, something city businesses know for sure thanks to a new system used at the Christmas Continental Market which counted 607,000 people walking through Eyre Square during the four weeks, which probably translates to at least 210,000 people visiting the event on average three times each.
Retailer Anthony Ryan, Chairman of the Galway City Business Association, which represents businesses in the city centre, said they were quite happy with their trade performance, one that was predicted nationally by the Retail Excellence Ireland group, which represents retailers all over the country.
It is estimated that about €60m was spent in the city in the run-up to Christmas – that includes the city centre and shopping centres and retail parks across the city – and the same again is expected to be spent by the end of the sales towards the end of January.
“We knew people would continue to be cautious when it came to spending and you can’t blame them but we are happy that Galway performed on trend and that there was a marginal increase, probably 2% to 3%, on what was spent in the city at Christmas and the sales last year.
“The bad storms affected us last year and though we had windy and wet weather for the last week of the Christmas Market, the Saturday before Christmas was one of our strongest days and last Saturday, too, was particularly busy. Despite inclement weather on St Stephen’s Day, a good number of people turned out for the start of the sales.
“The retail sector had bottomed out in the past few years because of the recession, but we predict some growth and there’s a definite trend where more spending is expected nationally. The retail sector is always one of the hardest hit in recession and we knew that it would take a while for spending to trickle down to us. I am personally optimistic about the future and I often say to other retailers and our own staff here that we’re not doing too badly,” said Mr Ryan.
Retail Excellence Ireland, which surveyed 300 retailers across the country, noted that despite the positive economic outlook, consumer spending had been softer than expected and was only marginally up on the same period last year. As a result, retailers were offering major discounts post Christmas.
Discount or no discount, a number of shops will always attract a sales crowd because of gift cards and vouchers bought there as Christmas presents.
For more on this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune
Gardaí raid cocaine lab in Galway City
Two men have been arrested following a Garda raid in which a cocaine laboratory was discovered in Galway City.
In total, Gardaí seized €178,500 in cash, €50,000 worth of cocaine (subject to analysis) and a number of drug manufacturing components as part of an intelligence-led operation into the sale and supply of drugs in the Galway Garda Division.
At 7.40pm yesterday (Sunday) the Divisional Drugs Unit in Galway stopped and searched a car on the M6 motorway in the vicinity of Loughrea where €17,580 worth of cash was seized.
As part of a follow-up search, Gardaí uncovered what is believed to be a cocaine processing laboratory and seized cocaine (pending analysis) with an estimated value of €50,000 at an address in Galway City.
At this address, Gardaí seized a quantity of mixing agent, a cocaine press, vacuum packer, industrial gas masks, and a cash counting machine, which are believed to have been used in the manufacture of cocaine for sale or supply.
In a further follow-up search, Gardaí seized €161,000 in cash at a separate premises in the city.
One man in his 20s was arrested following the detection on the M6, while a second man in his 30s was arrested at a property in Galway City.
Both men are currently detained at Galway Garda Station under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drugs Trafficking) Act 1996.
These seizures were part of an intelligence led operation and were detected by the Galway Divisional Drugs Unit with the assistance of the Western Regional Armed Support Unit.
Two arrested in Galway over spate of burglaries
Two men in County Galway have been arrested as part of a Garda investigation into a series of burglaries in businesses in Limerick and Tipperary.
As part of the operation, three houses were searched yesterday (Saturday) morning in Co Galway and two men in their 20s were arrested. They were brought to Henry Street and Roxboro Road Garda stations in Limerick, where they were detained under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2007.
During the search operation, two vehicles were also seized for technical examination.
The eight burglaries were carried out in the Limerick and Tipperary area in the early hours of last Wednesday morning.
As part of these investigations, an operation was put in place by detective Gardaí from Henry Street Garda station with the assistance of the Armed Support Unit in the Western Region and Gardaí from Tipperary, Limerick and Galway.
“It will be akin to the notorious Rahoon flats”
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – More than 700 local residents have signed a petition against plans for the construction of 330 apartments in Knocknacarra – which have been likened to “the notorious Rahoon flats”.
Child safeguarding concerns have also been raised by the principal of Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh – who pointed out that the apartments will look directly into 19 classrooms.
A total of 27 objections were lodged against Glenveagh Living’s plans to build 332 apartments in six blocks – ranging from four storeys to seven storeys in height.
Locals have demanded An Bord Pleanála hold an oral hearing into the plans – that planning authority is due to make a decision by March 20, although it can decide to hold such a hearing first.
One of the objections – which accuses the developer of designing “tenement style” homes in a “blatant attempt to profiteer from the housing crisis” – was signed by more than 700 local residents.
Another objector said the development was “akin to the notorious Rahoon flats, with people being packed on top of each other”.
Locals have raised concerns about the huge number of apartments planned; overshadowing of homes; inadequate open space, playing pitches and community infrastructure; parking and traffic problems; low quality of design and road safety.
Glenveagh Living did not respond to a request from the Galway City Tribune for comment.
This is a preview only. To read extensive coverage of the Glenveagh plans and objections, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.