The atmosphere and sense of community to be found while shopping in the Milk Market could be key to answering our questions about the future of city retail
ONE of the questions we must ask ourselves is why so many are so gung ho on Marks and Spencer being the salvation of Limerick city centre’s woes.
The answer lies in the concept of convenience. Shopping as we know it has changed radically over the past 30 years. Why has the Crescent Shopping Centre seen such success?
Why is Dundrum still considered to be a Mecca for shoppers? Why does yet another out of town development by the Parkway make sense to a developer even in today’s climate? Why is Limerick City dying a death? The answer is convenience.
We as shoppers have become accustomed to the notion of everything we need being under one roof.
Marks and Spencer for some reason is seen as the missing link in Limerick. Most of the other major brands have set up camp in the Crescent.
Marks and Spencer won’t be locating in the Crescent due to site restrictions so it is well known that they are actively pursuing a location in the city centre or potentially the Parkway Valley.
During my time in Dublin and London I would have used Marks and Spencer occasionally and mostly for its food offering which is excellent.
However, what must be recognised is that food in M&S is not cheap. People are cash strapped at the moment and my uneducated guess is that, if they were to establish themselves in the city centre, there would be an initial rush down the aisles followed by a slow and steady downfall in footfall
We crave immediacy. We crave convenience. But strangely we also crave a sense of community.
By investing in the likes of Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Lidl, Aldi and so on the money we spend does not get recycled in the local economy.
Local high street businesses close resulting in less footfall on the onset of a vicious circle.
We are in an age of consumerism and the recent crying out for a Marks and Spencer presence in the city is a perfect example of that. It is only a small percentage who see that the answer to Limerick’s problems does not lie in a new retail presence.
The success of the Milk Market is the great success story to emerge from Limerick in recent years.
The reasoning for this lies in that sense of community.
Local people saying hello as they nibble a freshly made sandwich or sip coffee and browse under the grand white canopy and listen to locals playing live music.
The atmospheric sense of community that exists on a morning or afternoon in that place is irreplaceable. It certainly does not replicate in the Crescent.
Perhaps the solution to our city’s woes does not boil down to the need for a retailer like Marks and Spencer.
Perhaps a strategy of enabling new, indigenous retailers to establish in our city is the way forward.
Community energy conference at Strand
The Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Limerick and the Limerick Clare Energy Agency have joined forces to host a Community Led Energy Generation and Supply Conference.
Community energy is a broad term that describes citizen and local ownership and participation in renewable energy generation, distribution and efficiency.
It is about embracing the advantages our natural resources provide for generating energy, and allowing the benefits (economic, social and environmental) to flow to all.
Pat Stephens, manager at Limerick Clare Energy Agency said: “Community energy is one of the key ways communities can start to take back control of their local economy, and energy supply. Around the world, the idea that communities install, own, and enjoy some of the benefits of renewable energy is growing fast.”
Anthony Coleman, assistant head of enterprise with LEO Limerick said: “The focus of this conference will be to highlight national and international examples of community energy generation and supply projects and how local groups can develop similar energy initiatives and sustain local enterprises in the mid west region.”
The conference takes place in The Strand Hotel, Limerick on Tuesday next August 30.
Admission is free but booking is essential on www.localenterprise.ie/Limerick.
Civic Trust lectures
Limerick Civic Trust has announced details of its 2016 Autumn Lecture Series which will take place in the unique setting of St Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick.
Sponsored by UL’s Kemmy Business School with support from the Limerick City & County Council, the six-part series of public lectures will be delivered by internationally renowned commentators and thought leaders in their field.
The opening lecture on September 7 will be given by Quentin Peel of the Financial Times. Each lecture will commence at 7.30pm and will be moderated by Dr Michele O’Dwyer of Kemmy Business School, UL.
Tickets cost €12 per lecture - concession and bundle tickets are also available.