By Orla Hearns
Ballina experienced a thriving trade throughout the Christmas period, with local restaurants, in particular, enjoying a bumper festive season.
Hugh Rouse, outgoing president of Ballina Chamber of Commerce, told the Western People that Christmas 2019 was a positive one for most traders with businesses generally reporting an increase on last year’s figures. He said this was probably attributable to several factors but that the availability of free parking in the town’s many public car parks throughout December definitely resonated well with consumers and attracted shoppers from other towns.
Mr Rouse said restaurants appear to have had a slight edge over pubs in the festive trade.
There was a particularly big demand for Christmas party offerings with some establishments sold out for such events for weeks in advance.
Mr Rouse said Mayo Co Council’s decision at the start of December to increase commercial rates in 2020 had caused a backlash among Ballina traders who have endured a cumulative increase of around 18 per cent in the last five years – a hike that is not perceived to have been reflected proportionately in investment in the Ballina municipal district.
Nevertheless, the chamber has – and will continue – to collaborate with the local authority to enhance the Ballina public realm and promote the town’s convenience to shoppers and visitors.
“What we are trying to do is to create an eco-system that will facilitate people to get into and park in the town centre within ten minutes and where they can then walk from one side of the town centre to the other within five minutes,” said Mr Rouse.
With his tenure as president of Ballina Chamber of Commerce due to conclude in a matter of weeks when the chamber hosts its annual general meeting, Mr Rouse expressed his thanks to the chamber members and executive, together with the many other groups operating in Ballina, for their help and advice throughout his two-year term in office.