Maeve Dineen: Fortune favours the brave as retailers reap festive rewards
FOR the first time in years, the streets surrounding the Irish Independent have been thronged with shoppers and it will be very surprising if local retailers, publicans and restaurateurs are not very happy when they count up this week's takings on Christmas Eve.
Elsewhere in today's paper we report that many shopkeepers are experiencing the best season in five years and there is every reason to hope for a bumper year.
The same streets around our Dublin city-centre office, so crowded at the moment, also have other stories to tell; one of brutal suffering if you look closely. I've lost count of the shops that have closed down over the past 12 months.
The most famous shop near our office to run aground was undoubtedly the department store Clerys, which changed ownership in the autumn.
Like so many similar closures these days, there was good news and bad news for those involved.
The good news was that the store remains open and continues to grace O'Connell Street with one of the thoroughfare's most impressive facades. The bad news is many employees lost a large chunk of their pensions – something that is happening with heart-breaking regularity.
While shops and restaurants are closing regularly, few spaces remain vacant for long. I know this is not the case in many other parts of the country where many shopping centres and main streets have been disfigured by empty lots, but in the capital there appears to be an endless supply of entrepreneurs ready to take up the baton.
The almost indomitable spirit of Irish and foreign-born retailers is one of the most impressive aspects of this terrible recession.
Everywhere you look, people are picking themselves up, dusting themselves down and trying something new to stay in business. Pop-up shops. One-man shops. Euro shops. It is an amazing time for anybody in retail these days.
The Government is making a lot of mistakes these days but it does seem hell-bent on helping the brilliant, brave people prepared to set up a business.
The new Companies Bill, unveiled yesterday, will be just the sort of Christmas present these entrepreneurs need. Taken together with the measures announced in the Budget, this is really good news.
The new act is long overdue and Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton deserves credit for bringing it before the Dail and for trying to ensure that company law obligations are easier to understand. This really is necessary.
In truth, international surveys show that there is relatively little red tape here and anybody who has set up a basic company will know that it is surprisingly easy. What is not easy is getting information about what has to be done to stay within the law.
If Mr Bruton achieves his objective to simplify the various Company Acts that have been allowed to build up over the years, he will have performed a very useful service to all our entrepreneurs.
It would take an important step forward when it comes to Taoiseach Enda Kenny's oft-stated desire to make this the greatest country in the world in which to do business.