A Merry Irish Christmas and a Happy New Year?

Bah humbug –  we have just seen the NAMA legislation passed by the Dail and we are about to face a round of public sector one day strikes with the government and the unions both posturing in a serious game of who has more bottle for a battle as we nervously approach the second Budget day this year. Who knows where all of this will lead and how it will affect us? For the most part we are quite helpless with little enough ability to influence anything. Are you as fed up with all of this as I am?

The one thing that we can be sure of is that Christmas is around the corner and as with every other year since we can remember we will all be stretching our budgets on presents for loved ones and friends and even gifts for our customers and staff who will have looked after us during the year. As always we will indulge in extra treats for ourselves and for our home between food and decorations… Merry Christmas, we deserve it!

How can we take this opportunity to take some small element of control of our circumstances and positively influence the economic environment around us and help not only to make it a Merry Christmas but also a Happy New Year?

My simple challenge is that we all consciously influence that spend on our Christmas budgets will be on Irish products and Irish services as much as possible. Without a doubt there will be less spent this year compared to last year but at least if we consciously Spend Irish, the money will stay in circulation in Ireland with more money in the country coffers come January, which will help kick off 2010 in a really positive way.

Ok, this may sound very noble and patriotic but when it boils down to it are we really going to be able to do it?  .. I think so.

Let’s have a look at the typical shopping list:

–          Books: Irish books by Irish authors by Irish publishers – make the effort to specifically choose Irish where possible. There are some fabulous books available

–          Music & DVD’s: given a choice can we vote for the Irish artist, comedian, movie?

–          Vouchers: can we opt for the restaurant, spa treatment or weekend break instead of an alternative?

–          Turkey & Ham: make sure these are from Irish suppliers, that should be easy

–          Other foodstuffs, relishes etc: Irish all the way, there is plenty of terrific choice

–          Booze: which brands are produced in Ireland? – can we substitute our favourite for an Irish alternative? Cork Dry Gin isn’t a bad substitute for Bombay!

This list can go on forever but if we consciously make it our business to choose for the option that keeps money in Irish circulation then, that is better for our economy, for jobs and ultimately for us.

And how about thank you gifts for customers and staff?

If you are in a position to allocate budget for Christmas gifts then consciously choose gifts that are Irish, Irish food and beverages, Irish vouchers, Irish books, Irish Christmas cards and so on. Without too much effort we should be able to easily steer all our precious Euros towards Irish products and services. Many of the hamper suppliers specialise in Irish products.

Where it just isn’t possible to choose an Irish alternative (Transformers and Hannah Montana and nothing else will do!) you will at least help the cause if you carefully choose how and where you purchase these products. You can help keep more money in the country by supporting our retailers or if you shop on the web try to keep the business for the Irish providers.

The retailers and Irish web retailers can also play a huge part in all of this with their choices about the products that they decide to stock this Christmas and how these are displayed and promoted. Purchasing behaviour can be significantly influenced by the retail space the products are given, by products featured in window displays and adverts and by the products featured on the home pages of the websites. Suppliers and retailers should proactively work together to ensure that Irish products are given a fair crack of the whip or even a significant advantage. How bad? – We will all benefit.

Recession or no recession, a huge amount of money will be spent between now and Christmas

…so when you are making your list this Christmas, try to check it twice and where possible decide to keep as much as possible of that money in Ireland, have a Merry Christmas and help to make it a Happy New Year!

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