‘This year is completely different’

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CUTBACKS David Tyrell, Director of the Western Stands in Belmullet, says they’ve been forced to cutback on when they serve food due to the cost of living crisis.

A major Belmullet business is altering its trading hours and considering electricity generators to survive the cost of living crisis

Michael Gallagher

The Western Strands in Belmullet has been central to the business and entertainment life of the Erris capital for decades. Now the hotel, bar and restaurant faces into a future it never before envisaged.
“Things drops off in September anyway, but this year is completely different,” David Tyrrell, director of the business, told The Mayo News. “We’ve had to look deeply into how we do things and make big changes,” he added.
Mr Tyrrell says the public’s wariness about spending is already being felt in the tills – and he doesn’t expect things to improve in the near future.
“At the moment, the main issue we’re seeing is the squeeze people are experiencing or expect to experience. A lot of people don’t have the disposable income, and anyone who has is becoming more and more afraid to spend it because they’re hearing about big increases coming down the line in electricity bills and the likes.
“We’re all worried about those big increases, and that’s understandable, but the caution is already having a serious impact on business and cash flow. We see it clearly every day,” he added.

Energy worries
The rises in electricity and gas prices have already affected homes and businesses throughout the country, but they have not touched The Western Strands just yet, according to Tyrrell.
“Thankfully, we’re on a fixed-price deal right now,” he explained, “but that will run out soon, and we’ll be exposed to the huge increases. The rising prices are beyond anything we ever expected and it’s hard to get the head around it.
“We have had to take a lot of things into consideration. One of the things we’re looking at is installing solar panels on our south-facing roofs. We’re investigating the cost and the return at the moment and we’re not sure whether it’s feasible or not, but we’re really hoping it will be some help. We’re also looking at generators and what we can do around that, but we’re just in the planning stages at the moment.”

Trading hours
Tyrrell and his team have also made the serious decision to alter the business’s offering to customers. In the face of rising prices, caution in the market and difficulty in acquiring staff, the Western Strands will now not provide food on four weekdays for the coming season.
“Normally, we’d provide food from 12 to 5pm every day from Monday to Thursday and 12 to 9 at night on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but we’ve had to cut back, so now we’ll only have food on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from nine to nine. That’s a big change, and we’re hoping it will be a success, but for the moment we have to cut our cloth to suit the situation.
“We’re not sure what the future holds. It’s important that businesses in rural Ireland get the support needed to survive. We all depend on the local businesses for jobs or services, and we have to work together to get through this.”