Festive boost for county businesses

IT WAS a tough year, particularly for local businesses, but 2022 ended with a buzz in Fermanagh’s county town, with traders enjoying a festive boost to sales.
Things are looking positive for the new year ahead, too, with a number of businesses seeking to open new premises in Enniskillen town centre, showing how even in the toughest of times Fermanagh’s entrepreneurial spirit shines through.
“There was a huge amount of apprehension, around September time, with traders very much aware that people had less money in their pockets,” said Noelle McAloon from Enniskillen Business Improvement District (BID).
“I think the general consensus is, though, if business had been told in September that they would have the Christmas that they have had they would have been delighted. It has been a very good Christmas, and I think a good atmosphere in town.”
Ms McAloon said it was important to focus on the positives, and noted a number of new businesses had opened in the town this year, including bookstore Waterstones and handmade skincare shop, Enniskin.
Waterstones last week thanked the local community for its business, noting “books are well and truly at the heart of Enniskillen,” while pop-up shop Enniskin enjoyed so much local support it is now going to become a permanent fixture of Townhall Street.
The team behind the natural beauty venture, which even sold out of some stock such was demand in the lead up to Christmas, said they were “completely blown away” by the level of support they had received.
Ms McAloon said 2023 was already looking positive, too, with the current economic situation not putting prospective businesses from investing locally.
“We’ve had a number of other conversations this week about other businesses who are looking to set up in the town centre in the new year,” she said, speaking last week.
“That’s really good, and we at BID are trying to get out to the the community how we’re supporting them.”
Meanwhile, the popularity of the Experience Enniskillen gift card has been continuing this year, with BID busy keeping up with demand.
“We have been so busy this last couple of weeks trying to keep the sellers with stock,” said Ms McAloon, noting well over £600,000 of cards had been sold since the programme started, including £120,000 sold this year.
“All that money is staying in Enniskillen, and that’s the really positive thing. It’s great.
“We are continuing to be the top selling gift card in the UK.”
Ms McAloon also noted that, on top of the Public Realm Scheme as well as the eight new art murals in the county town, Enniskillen was due for yet another facelift in the coming months.
Last week applications closed for the Council’s Enniskillen Shop Improvement Scheme, which will help improve the appearance of the town centre see high street businesses get grants of up to £5,000 to improve the appearance of their buildings. It is expected the works by the businesses as part of the scheme, which was worth in the region of £350,000, will be be finished by the end of March.
“There is going to be a lot of money spent on the high street buildings between now and March,” said Ms McAloon. “I think that’s really positive. Any investment is good for the town.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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