Navan traders fear constant roadworks has obliterated footfall and turnover with many concerned for the future
Businesses in Navan have blasted the number of roadworks taking place across the town - revealing they are having a crippling impact on trade.
Up-in-arms enterprise owners have said the works have seen business drop in some cases by over 70 per cent as well as losing footfall from passing trade as pedestrians struggle to navigate chaotic streets.
The works are being carried out as part of the Navan 2030 project, a €13million rejuvenation of central Navan that will transform the streetscape of the town dramatically to a more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly town. However one business owner fears she might not see 2024.
"The impact has been absolutely massive," says Jennifer Callan from Callan and Harte on Watergate Street. "It feels like it's the final nail in the coffin because prior to the roadworks there was a massive problem with parking, it very much felt like everybody was being penalised to try and come in and shop in Navan.
"So the road works have just added to that already existing problem tremendously and it has made it impossible for people to shop locally.
"Business is down by 70 percent, I haven't been this quiet since the recession."
Jennifer who started the business with her husband Finian in 1990 says she fears for the future, adding:
"We are an independent family owned business, we have struggled through thick and thin and we have reinvented ourselves so many times but there is nothing left in the tank now because this is out of our hands."
The lack of parking exacerbated by the roadworks is a huge factor is customers being unable to get to the shop as Jennifer explains:
"I don't have an online presence, what I do is bespoke, what I do is very customer orientated so they have to physically come in for their consultation and they have to collect what they get done and very often it can be large, heavy, not very portable frames.
"People are very good and accept the lack of parking nearby but they are saying the whole experience is just too stressful. In previous years people would come in and collect their frames almost immediately now I could be holding on to things for weeks or months, that affects my turn over and they do ring and say I have been in Navan three or four times but I can't get next or near you. That is what I am facing on a daily and weekly basis."
Jennifer believes to ensure the lifeline of independent business, an holistic approach needs to be taken:
"I think very unfortunately people have a very negative view of Navan. We have to look down the line, there are family run, independent businesses here, they put their heart and soul into what they do. We don't have the bank balance of chain stores.
"I have had people shop with me for generations, their children coming to me, you can't put a price on that.
"I think the county council need to speak to the local business community and talk to them and really be brave and open to thinking about the bigger picture and think about how we can make this a safe welcoming town.
"We need a multi-story car park, we don't absolutely need a car parking space outside our door but we need something that helps people."
Aine Rafter's father opened The Singer Sewing shop in 1975. She says with the exception of Covid, this past year has been the toughest period since the shop now based in Kennedy Plaza opened almost 50 years ago.
"It has been an extremely difficult time for us as a business and the other traders," said Aine, "We have been through hell but now we can see light at the end of the tunnel."
"As a resident of Navan I can absolutely appreciate the upgrade works, I see that it is going to look impressive, as a business, it has been utter carnage, it has all but crippled us.
"My father started this business in Navan in 1975, with the exception of Covid, this has been the most challenging time of our tenure."
Aine has been, along with many other businesses, in the eye of the storm of the works.
"A bad week in business is pretty detrimental to any business, this must be going on well up on a year, you can imagine what that has done.
"There is no denying trade has dropped significantly, customers are very vocal about the fact that they struggle to access the shop or have found it unclear at times how to get into us.
"There is no compensation scheme available to businesses, rate reduction or otherwise."
Aine believes all that is left now to look to the future and hope that businesses can weather the storm. She added:
"I suppose at this point we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel as parts of Kennedy Plaza start to slowly reopen.
"All we can do is look forward to the end result and hope that the endurance of all of this will be worth it.
"As a trader you have to appreciate the growth and the future."
Proprietor of Leon's on Market Square Leon Duffy wants to reassure customers that he is open for business despite roadworks outside his building giving the impression that they are closed. He added:
"They have dug up the same section of road outside of here twice. I was told that it was going to take three weeks and we are into the fourth week of it now, I'd say there's another two or three weeks left to go.
"The Trim road is starting in two weeks and fair enough the Trim road has to done but can they not finish something first? They have Kennedy Road dug up, Trimgate Street dug up, Market Square dug up and Watergate Street is now dug up. Why can't they finish what they have started in the town?
"People don't know how to get around the town even pedestrians are wondering which way do they go, they are hitting obstructions every which way.
"I'm very lucky that I have the seating area at the back because I can't use the one at the front, no one wants to sit there in with the dust and the noise. You don't look like you are open because you are not putting furniture outside the front and it’s a pointless exercise paying staff to put furniture out there just to look like you are open."
Leon says it is a constant battle trying to create a good atmosphere where people can come to relax as a result of the noise and machinery. He added:
"We have had shelves shaking and things falling off shelves with the vibrations going through the building.
"The building was painted a few years ago and now it is actually getting dirty with the amount of dust, it is very hard to maintain.
"The work will look great when it's done, I just think there is a lot of jumping to and fro from one side of the street to the other, I just can't understand why they have to dig up so many different areas without finishing one."