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Browse by appointment ‘could be key to return’ of joys of in-store shopping

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independent.ie_Fashion retailers are pleading for ‘browsing by appointment’ to help them get back to business in a safe way.

Retail Excellence has warned that the Government’s decision to delay the reintroduction of click and collect services will have “a lasting negative impact”.

Minister of State for Retail Damien English has been urged to consider a ‘bridge’ back to a full reopening of shops.

Retail Excellence CEO Duncan Graham added: “Click and collect is safe and is largely conducted locally, and retailers are even more frustrated that the Government’s inability to offer this concession comes at the same time as local travel restrictions are being eased.

“We have significant concerns now about the viability of hundreds of retailers who have been left in limbo by this regressive move.”

Gwen Culligan, co-owner of County Boutique in Ennis, Co Clare says “in many parts of Europe, and particularly in Holland, the concept of ‘browsing by appointment’ has been in play for some time during this pandemic.

“I believe a version of it could work really well here in Ireland and could help save independent fashion retailers.”

“Allowing for time between appointments to sanitise and ventilate – we could comfortably and safely accommodate eight browsers per day.

The money generated through sales would help many  businesses secure their future,” says Gwen, who runs the boutique with her sister, Maeve.

Niamh D’Arcy who, with her sister Deirdre O’Connor, owns the Dress Circle boutique and Scarlet Slippers shop in Terenure, has been posting videos on Instagram about new spring and summer stock.

They don’t have a website so the videos have been key, says Niamh, adding they are “very fortunate that we have loyal customers who we know on a first-name basis”.

Catherine Keighery of Redlane boutique in Tramore, Co Waterford says the rulebook on retail has been completely rewritten due to the “elimination of the  joy of experiential shopping for the customer”.

Her comments came as she announced she was closing her shop to trade exclusively online.

The first independent fashion retailer  to launch an e-commerce website in 2008, Catherine encouraged  people shopping online to try and support Irish businesses and retailers.

“The more money that stays in the country, the sooner we can get out of this mess,” said Catherine.