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Business survey highlights local trading challenges

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A recent anonymous survey of small local businesses conducted by the Killarney Advertiser has found that more than one in three (35%) small local businesses in Killarney are either not profitable or  are close to breaking even. 

A similar percentage said that they may have to let go of staff if the current situation doesn’t improve, while 19% of respondents said they will either have to explore rent/rate reductions or consider closing all together. 

Responses to the survey also highlighted parking issues, footfall, and rising costs of operation as real challenges to our small business community.

Over the past number of weeks the Killarney Advertiser has liaised with the Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce and the Killarney Town Retail Association to collect responses from thirty-eight small town businesses that are selling a wide variety of products and services. 

58% of respondents cited parking difficulties as a significant deterrent for customers with further feedback from the businesses saying that it is affecting footfall and revenue. Highlighting the specific parking challenges in Killarney a number of retailers responded to the issue:

“Killarney retail is in trouble…town parking issues have been known for a long time yet nothing is done”.

When asking local business owners what can be done to address the issues they suggested better parking schemes by Kerry County Council such as free parking for short lay-overs and reduce the pedestrianisation of town centre streets to allow for on street parking for the elderly and disabled.

In other findings, 63% of businesses reported customer footfall/sales as a key business challenge with one business commenting, “too much tourist accommodation taken out of the system leading to footfall reduction and spend reduction”. Two separate respondents reported a 40% and 50% reduction in shop footfall last year”.

50% of businesses expressed concern about energy and rent & rate costs with one  business owner saying that the “increase in minimum wage, VAT rates, and energy costs are not sustainable for small businesses. Something drastically needs to be done by government locally and nationally”

Another businesses added, “the asking price for rents in our town is unrealistic, probably leading to more units than necessary being unoccupied. A reduction in rates and VAT should be looked at to counterbalance the demands of increased minimum wage, higher sick pay commitments and the upcoming pension contribution.”

A number of local businesses highlighted an increase in anti-social behaviour and a lack of a Garda presence on our streets as another major challenge.

One business said that “begging and anti-social behaviour has increased dramatically” while another business said they have seen a “shocking increase in shoplifting and theft and little or no support from the authorities” 

Other responses called for a more diverse range of shops and for a retail strategy to be introduced, “Encourage a more diverse variety of shops to encourage people to come to Killarney for a family retail experience! More parking is essential! It has turned into a town for drinking only! Not family friendly at all.”

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Anthony Walsh  - Killarney Chamber, Retail Chairperson
Reviewing the results of this retail pulse survey it is imperative the voices of retailers in Killarney are represented and a meeting with the Killarney Municipal Council is scheduled to discuss some of these issues we are facing. The Killarney Chamber is here to promote and support this important retail campaign. With a few businesses closing in the town centre, we need a strategy that attracts some independent small businesses to join the many others that are the lifeblood of retail in Killarney.

William Sheahan  - Killarney Town Retail Association Chairperson 
It’s very worrying that one in three retail businesses in our town centre are not profitable or close to breaking even, especially when almost 90% of these businesses are trading for over 10 years. What makes Killarney unique is its shops with long histories and more importantly the people that work in them. There is no question that certain streets and areas are under pressure due to lack of footfall. No business should be put out of business because of rates or lack of parking. Killarney retailers want to see visible support from Kerry County Council Management and Government to get through these times.

Kerry County Council Statement 
Kerry County Council continues to work with all stakeholders and local businesses to foster a strong commercial and retail environment in Killarney. Kerry County Council has delivered a broad suite of supports to local businesses in the past number of years based on national policy and grant schemes, such as rate waiver schemes, the Restart Scheme, the Small Business Assistance Scheme, and business continuity supports. The Local Enterprise Office also provides a range of supports to small and medium businesses. The Increased Cost of Business Grant (ICOB) was also announced as part of Budget 2024 and will be targeted at small and medium-sized businesses which operate from a rateable premises. This scheme will be a once-off grant aid provision, and the final details of the scheme are currently being developed. Also, as part of the development of the Local Economic and Community Plan (LECP), there will be scope to work with the Kerry Economic Stakeholder Forum to conduct further analysis through Local Chamber Alliances and to develop appropriate policies responses to the challenges faced by local businesses through the Economic, Enterprise and Community SPC.

For more reaction don't forget to pick up this weeks Killarney Advertiser.

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Photo of “hidden gem” wins Camera Club’s latest competition

A photograph of one of Killarney’s hidden beauty spots was deemed the winner of Killarney Camera Club’s most recent competition. Th standard was high throughout all categories but in the […]

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A photograph of one of Killarney’s hidden beauty spots was deemed the winner of Killarney Camera Club’s most recent competition.

Th standard was high throughout all categories but in the Novice category, Iryna Halaieva’s photograph of O’Sullivan’s Cascade was deemed the winner.

“A waterfall is my favourite waterbody and long exposure is my favourite photographic technique,” she said. “I do my best to have as many waterfalls as possible in my photo collection. I heard a lot about O’Sullivan’s Cascade and wanted to visit that hidden gem of Kerry. So, shortly before our club competition I went with a friend to Tomies Wood to photograph it. It was a dream come true for me.”

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Corcoran’s Furniture walk raises €12k for autism charity

Corcoran’s Furniture and Carpets charity walk through the Gap of Dunloe on Saturday raised almost €12,000 for Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland There were 37 participants in the event, which included […]

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Corcoran’s Furniture and Carpets charity walk through the Gap of Dunloe on Saturday raised almost €12,000 for Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland

There were 37 participants in the event, which included AADI families, dogs, and representatives, as well as fundraisers, supporters, and members of the Corcoran’s team. The stars of the day were the three life-changing super-hero dogs, Buzz, Baron and Hank.

Former Kerry Footballer, James O’ Donoghue, was the ambassador for the event
Those taking part left Ross Castle and were treated to a phenomenal boat ride in the expert hands of Diarmuid ‘Dux’ O’Donoghue of Gap of Dunloe Traditional Boat Tours. The O’Donoghue family entertained the entire group with a range of fascinating stories outlining the history of the lakes of Killarney and Killarney National Park.

The group set out from Lord Brandon’s Cottage and walked the 11K through the iconic Gap of Dunloe, with two AADI families and their dogs taking part in the full walk. This was followed by a well-deserved meal and some rest and relaxation at Kate Kearney’s Cottage. Flemings Taxi’s Killarney brought the group back to Ross Castle, Killarney upon completion of the event.

“On behalf of everybody at Corcoran’s Furniture, we would like to thank everybody who participated in our Gap of Dunloe charity event on behalf of AADI,” said Shane O’ Callaghan, Financial Controller atCorcoran’s.

“Collectively we have raised almost €12,000 for this incredible charity and monies are still coming in. We are extremely grateful to all who supported our walk, and also to James O’ Donoghue, Christina Tagney, the Gap of Dunloe Traditional Boat Tours, the fantastic support of Noel Lucey and Donal McCarthy from the Order Of Malta, Killarney branch, and to Killarney National Park, Kate Kearney’s Cottage and Fleming’s Taxi’s. All funds raised will go toward the expert training and maintenance of the upcoming AADI dogs who will make a dramatic difference to so many children with Autism and their families.”

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