From clothing to books to the latest gadgets, there is no denying that online shopping is growing at an increasing pace. In a recent online survey conducted by #shopkilkenny, Kilkenny shoppers said on average that 26% of their overall shopping expenditure over the past year went on online purchases to businesses located outside of the county. Furthermore, the same respondents intend to allocate an even greater proportion of their spending to online purchases in the run up to Christmas.
#shopkilkenny is an initiative which is designed to raise awareness of the many businesses across our city, county towns and villages and remind shoppers that where we direct our spending shapes the future of where we live. Marion Acreman, Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce President reminds us that “in many cases, Halloween, Christmas and Easter sales account for a significant proportion of a retailer’s annual turnover. As we move into two of the busiest shopping periods, we need to remember that it really is a case of ‘use it or lose it’. Whilst we cannot expect everyone to ‘shop Kilkenny’ exclusively, we are asking people to take a considered approach and to support local businesses where possible”.
With this in mind, here are the top five factors that Kilkenny based shoppers said they consider most important when it comes to shopping locally:
Quality of Products
98% of survey respondents felt that ‘quality of products’ was either an ‘important’ or ‘very important’ factor in deciding to ‘shop Kilkenny’. It would seem that the age-old phrase ‘quality over quantity’ has not gone out of fashion, with many shoppers seeking well-made goods that will stand the test of time. In this regard, we are lucky in Kilkenny to have so many businesses who supply high quality products, many of which are sourced in Ireland, as well as a number of businesses who support local artists, designers, food producers and makers. Moreover, opting for locally sourced products and fresh produce also reduces the need for transport and excessive packaging thereby contributing positively towards building a greener future.
For 92% of survey respondents, ‘convenience’ was also high on their agenda when choosing to ‘shop Kilkenny’. Whilst it seems hard to beat the perceived convenience of browsing stores online from the comfort of your own sofa, approximately one third of online purchases are returned due to the product not meeting customer expectations in terms of quality or fit. In this regard, returns can necessitate a trip to the post office or parcel depot, costing money, taking time and making the overall transaction quite inconvenient after all. On the other hand, having a local shopkeeper who knows you by name, understands what you like and is happy to order in that special item for you is surely a whole different level of convenience. In addition, many local businesses also offer ‘click and collect’ and home delivery services too.
91% of Kilkenny based survey respondents rated ‘price’ as another significant factor when opting to ‘shop Kilkenny’. Keeping money circulating in the community not only provides jobs for our neighbours, family and friends, but also helps maintain local services. It is important to remember that local businesses also give back to the community by assisting local charities and sponsoring the events and festivals we all enjoy, and all of this means that there is a far greater value to ‘shopping Kilkenny’ than simply the price on a commodity good.
90% of Kilkenny based survey respondents feel that ‘Customer Service’ is either an ‘important’ or ‘very important’ factor in deciding to pop in to a local store rather than venturing further afield. The fact is, that local store owners usually do what they do because they are passionate about their business. They know what they are selling and will go the extra mile to ensure you’re satisfied. It’s their livelihood that’s at stake after all.
Kilkenny Shoppers are also seeking ‘product variety’ with 90% rating it as either an ‘important’ or ‘very important’ factor when ‘shopping Kilkenny’. Whilst online retail gives consumers access to a bewildering variety of products, satisfying the need for extensive variety on the shop floor is far more complex and costly. Despite this, many local businesses, particularly those of scale, do offer high-variety product lines to their customer base and are more than happy to go the extra mile and put in special orders for loyal customers.
In terms of variety of shops and business services in the local vicinity, 6 out of 10 people surveyed said they were either ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with local ladies showing slightly higher levels of satisfaction to their male counterparts. Additionally, 9 out of 10 surveyed say they do 50% plus of their shopping in monetary terms with businesses located in county Kilkenny. Upwards of 80% stay local when shopping for food, drink and professional services whilst upwards of 60% keep it local when purchasing electronic goods and appliances. When it comes to footwear and fashion, furniture and home décor as well as toys, shoppers tend to purchase from a range of businesses located both inside and outside of the county.
“It is imperative that we all support the #shopkilkenny initiative and look closely at our shopping habits. By shopping locally, we support our towns, villages and city and we keep local shopkeepers and service providers in business. Their success in turn encourages other entrepreneurs to take the leap and start up their own business, which ultimately leads to more jobs and money circulating in our community.” concluded Fiona Deegan, Head of Enterprise at Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny.