5.4.1 Trends in Convenience and Comparison Goods Retailing

Dúnta22 Nol, 2020, 09:00 - 12 Már, 2021, 17:00
​​​​​​5.4.1 Trends in Convenience and Comparison Goods Retailing

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic so far has had varying effects on different types of retailers. Grocery and key services are seeing an increase in activity.  DIY stores and garden centres have seemingly benefitted from the situation, with a spike in customers undertaking projects at home[1].

Meanwhile, many other retailers are struggling.  While there is activity online, discretionary spending generally falls dramatically in difficult times.  For the comparison goods market, the recurrent theme reported in the media and advised by specialist reports analysing retail trends, relates to the need for retailers to shift towards prioritising the customer experience.  This relates to improving the customer experience of in-store shopping, by providing an environment to showcase the potential of products, thereby improving the experience of the product itself, and enhancing in-store experience[2].

Leisure is often considered a discretionary activity and, as such, consumer spending on leisure is greatly influenced by the economic climate and, in particular, average levels of disposable incomes. Leisure uses within this context include visiting restaurants, bars, cafes, arcades, cinemas and leisure centres. Consumers in Ireland have shown a growing desire to engage in leisure activities.  The Central Statistics Office estimates that expenditure in this category has increased from 20.5% in 1980 to 33.6% in 2016[3].

​​​​​​​ Local Trends

During the course of 2018-19, a number of successive store closures in Kilkenny provoked public debate concerning the future of shopping in the city.  This prompted news articles and discussion around how to support local businesses to ensure they succeed despite general retailing uncertainty[4]. The latest GeoView Commercial Property Report (for Q2 2020) reveals that the vacancy rate in County Kilkenny (at 12.4%) is below the national average of 13.5%, and is one of only 3 Counties to record a decrease, albeit marginal (at -0.2%) in the previous 12-months[5].

The debate is consistent with commentary and discourse at national level. Retailing has always been subject to change and that the main streets of towns and villages are constantly adapting and evolving as a result. While rates, rents, car parking restrictions and poor public realm are cited as reasons for shop closures, it is more likely to do with changing values and behaviour of consumers and in particular - online shopping[6]. Places that accept and plan for change will fare best.  In response to the challenges faced by retail owners, Kilkenny County Council has put in place a number of supports including the Small Business Vacant Premises Scheme, and the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) created a Retail Development Programme to assist retail owners to address the challenge they face in this fast-changing sector. Most recently, the Council has facilitated the establishment of a Kilkenny City Task Force.


[1] In Ireland, although economic activity remains below pre-Covid-19 levels, the Chadwick’s and Woodie’s businesses have in recent months outperformed the prior year: Grafton Group half year results Aug 2020.

[2] How Does That Make You Feel’, Kantar World Panel, September 2018?

[3] Household Budget Survey 2015-2016’, CSO Ireland, 2016

[4] During this time the impact of BREXIT was causing uncertainty.

[5] GeoView Commercial Property Report Q2 2020 https://assets.ey.com/content/dam/ey-sites/ey-com/en_ie/news/2020/08/geo_view_doc.pdf

[6] Sunday Independent, 4th November, 2018

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