Brian McCarey from E&M Stores in Cootehill.

Blow as store forced to close for second time this year

E&M Stores Closed in Cootehill

A Cootehill businessman has expressed his disappointment at being forced to close his business for a second time this year after Covid restrictions were ramped up.

Brian McCarey from E&M Stores in Cootehill said the closure of many businesses until the end of November is “going to leave a very small window for retailers to pull back what is essentially five lost months of trading this year”.

He is calling on the Government to publish a clear exit strategy for businesses.

“People need to know if we get to X, we will be at Level Three or Y, it will be Level Two. Going back from Five to Four would be pointless and back to Three would not be much better, it definitely would need to be back to Level Two for the month of December. That would be a necessity for all of society,” argued Brian.

He also questioned the wisdom in closing retail, saying those settings are not driving infection rates. “Closing retail down for six weeks, to re-open it for three weeks, is going to make retail a possible dangerous environment. Shops will busier, streets will be busier, towns will be busier and people will be in closer proximity. If things had been left open right through, there would have been a lower consistent level of trading up to Christmas, which seem to make sense,” contended Brian.

He added that people want to make Christmas extra special this year after a long, difficult year of restrictions.

When shops reopen, Brian predicts an “intense trading period”and expects he will need to open the shop seven days a week.

He’s hopeful the business will “bounce back” more quickly than it did after emerging from the first lockdown.

Brian believes he could have continued to operate his business safely. “We have a 7,000 square foot shop, so social distancing was not an issue with customers or staff. We all wore our face masks and there were hand sanitisers in store and perspex screens. I am not aware of an outbreak in a retail store and clothes that were tried on were sanitised before being put back in stock,” he told the Celt.

“Business had returned to normal [prior to the second lockdown]. It is disappointing to build back up to normal trading conditions, and then be pulled back down to a complete shutdown,” continued Brian.

“To differentiate between retail and say that one can open and the other can’t seems unfair,” he added of rules that allow some retailers to remain open because they are deemed essential.Brian feels that socialising and house parties are to blame for the recent surge in cases and says there is little in the new restrictions to combat those flashpoints.

His store was heavily stocked for Christmas trade prior to the shutdown and he’s concerned business will be lost to online shopping.

E&M Stores is hoping to launch its own online store in the coming weeks but is looking forward to welcoming customers back, physically in store.“Customers have been good and have been shopping locally and supporting the local shops. Most consumers are aware of the need to support local businesses. Now we need the support more than ever,” concluded Brian.