7.1 Introduction

A healthy retail sector is central to a city’s success. It can contribute to the city’s continuing economic recovery and qualitative improvement by upgrading the existing retail offer and strengthening mixed use linkages within the city. The economic downturn has restricted expected retail growth since 2008 and is only now showing signs of tentative recovery. The Retail Sales Index (CSO) reached a seven-year high in 2014, though much lower than 2007. This renewed optimism has seen towns and cities taking the opportunity to enhance their retail prospects by improving their general civic environment.

The Local Government Management Agency report 2015 (www.lgma.ie) details selected initiatives that are improving the retail experience through business, public realm and civic pride programmes. It is acknowledged that such initiatives are crucial in delivering a pleasant retail experience, in turn strengthening economic activity in the local area.

The retail strategy for the city, as set out in Appendix 3, underpins the core strategy’s objectives for a prosperous, sustainable and resilient city from the city centre core to the emerging district centres, urban villages and neighbourhood centres.