A snap survey conducted this week amongst members of Ennis Chamber, representing a cross section of sectors, revealed some key trends.
Members operating in the hospitality sector appear to remain worst hit by the effects of Covid, with reports of forced closures or limited days of opening due to Covid, whether due to staff contracting the virus, being close contacts or isolating. The owners spoken to said they have had to make tough decisions to protect staff and customers.
One restaurant/bar owner said, “Every day is presenting new challenges, you need to keep making new plans, it’s exhausting.”
Meanwhile, industry members reported staff absences ranging between 10% to 15% across the board, a trend they expect to continue for the next few weeks at least. The industry sector are also experiencing supply chain issues, with one manufacturer reporting continued delays in the arrival of shipping containers, compounded by the fact that many containers arrive at the same time which is negatively impacting on storage capacity, adding to an already pressured situation.
Many of the professional services businesses have followed government advice and offered staff the opportunity to work from home, although others report that with the Omicron variant so rampant, many staff are already off due to Covid.
Former Ennis Chamber President Allen Flynn of the Old ground Hotel said, “The hospitality sector needs government supports to continue. We need commercial rates to be waived for first half of 2022, CRSS and EWSS to both be continued to June 2022.
Our sector would also benefit from an Increase to national marketing budgets to promote staycations and the return of international tourism. We are known for our great outdoor experiences here in County Clare, that needs to be our marketing message post COVID.”
Looking ahead to 2022
Current Ennis Chamber President Darragh McAllister summing up the situation said, “Unfortunately, despite all our efforts and hardship over the past two years, we find ourselves in a worse situation than ever envisaged at the start of the pandemic. However, we must have reached the stage where we can finally actually start living with Covid. This will bring a whole new set of challenges, but also opportunities.”
For professional services and office based workers, the experience of working remotely has been tried and tested and valuable lessons have been learned.
Our retailer members have worked ferociously hard to build online sales and hopefully that will stand to them this year and post Covid.
On an optimistic note for the hospitality sector, in which I operate, I believe we may still be looking at an outdoor summer to bring us through 2022. From both a hospitality and a customer focus, we have been here before and are better prepared to make that work this year and in the future.
Ennis Chamber was involved with Ennis Municipal District staff in the successful application to Failte Ireland for street furniture and similar outdoor paraphernalia last year and I think we’ll be rolling out that furniture a lot earlier in the season this year to maximise customer experience, which in turn will hopefully help boost turnover going into winter 2022.”
For further information contact: Margaret O’Brien, CEO, Ennis Chamber at