We had a couple of excursions in Wexford to do a little shopping during the after Christmas Sales. Wexford is an 18,000 inhabitant town in the south-eastern tip of Ireland.
Despite the harsh economic conditions in Ireland, it seems a thriving county town. My observation of the state of the economy in Wexford comes from the very few empty retail premises or charity shops I saw compared to the number of empty premises and charity shops in my own home town of Maidenhead. Can I attribute this to the landlords and city officials realising that expensive rent and rates = empty shops? Possibly, but my favourite explanation is that most of the shops in the high street are small independent shops and not chain shops. The brands represented in the shops are varied and well known internationally but the name over the door is local. This means that in hard times, the bean counters at head office do not decide of the fate of the high street from the comfort of their national headquarter. Although, I have no doubt, profit is down but the shops are still around because the owner of a small shop will try to keep it going as long as possible by taking less pay when times are lean. In my mind, having independent shops rather than chains is not the only benefit; this also ensures the diversity of shops. One high street does not look like the one in the next town and this can only benefit the consumer.