Small Irish businesses will need all the help they can get over the next six weeks as they try to survive amid Level 5 closures and it looks like consumers are doing their best to back them with online shopping.
Google searches for 'just buy Irish' peaked with an increase of a massive 3,495 per cent, the Google search term 'shop local Cork' increased by 700 per cent in the past week, while 'shop local Ireland' increased by 540 per cent and 'buy Irish gifts' searches increased by 200 per cent.
Alice Mansergh, director of Small Business at Google Ireland said: “Our Google search data shows that Irish people are actively searching for ways to support Irish small businesses.
"The numbers speak for themselves; there is a very clear commitment by Irish consumers to shop local where they can, and it’s very encouraging to see that more consumers are specifically looking for Irish gifts at this time of year that is crucial to local businesses.”
“It has never been more important for Irish SMEs to have an online presence, but even if you don’t have a website there are quick and easy steps you can take to increase your visibility online and make sure customers can find you,” she added.
Simple measures to start online trading include the following:
- Be found on Google with a free Business Profile
- Easily connect with customers on Google Search and Maps. Update your offerings such as delivery or take-away or allow customers to support you by buying vouchers
- Understand what your customers are looking for with Google trends
- Learn with Google online courses or rewatch their webinars
The online searches will be welcome news for small business owners.
Meanwhile, the Government has been warned that smaller shops forced to close due to Level 5 restrictions may reopen in a “campaign of civil disobedience” as large companies continue to sell non-essential items.
Isme, which represents thousands of small businesses, said scenes of large queues of shoppers looking to by toys at multinationals was like a "red rag to a bull".
Niall McDonnell, Isme chief executive, claimed the Government had facilitated a "massive transfer of wealth" from struggling small businesses to already profitable companies still trading in toys, clothes and homeware.
"This is what has happened," he told The Irish Times.
“The small guys are getting shut down by Government and at the same time Government is allowing really large billion-euro businesses to continue trading.
“I really don’t understand what the long-term objective here is, unless they want main street Ireland to have tumble weed blowing through it in the new year.”