“Engaging with our Youth – The Retail Experience in Cork City”


The Cork Business Association and Cork City Council have come together with the Transition Year students St Angela’s College to work on an exciting new project over the past academic year. With the growth of online shopping ever increasing there is an inevitable knock on effect on our local retailers in Cork City centre. Cork Business Association and Cork City Council are aware of this potential threat to local business, and with the help of Ms Muireann Curtin of St Angela’s College, they have designed a Project Brief for the current transition year students attending St Angela’s College.


The general objective of this project was to “raise questions about the spending habits of young people in Cork City and promote the development of local retailers”. This project was guided by Ms Julia Campi from Sao Paulo who has worked on similar projects back in her home country of Brazil. This was a very practical live project that, we believe, will greatly benefit both the transition year students and local retailers alike. The project was broken down into four stages and students worked over the course of the academic year to identify what types of products are available in Cork City, how the youth in Cork consume these products and what the overall retail experience is like for our younger generations shopping in Cork City.


Please note this is a study done amongst Transition Year students in one school and therefore the findings are not scientific. 



Writing for the Irish Examiner, Eoin English details:

Retailers in Cork are planning a series of workshops with teenagers to find out how they can improves the retail offering to a vast untapped teenage market.

It follows the release of new research by students at St Angela's College, facilitated by the Cork Business Association (CBA) and the city council, which highlights some of the perceived barriers which teenagers say discourage them from shopping in the city centre.

It also includes suggestions, they say, would encourage them to shop more in the city, including:

  • Better social media connections with their demographic;
  • Better public transport and signage;
  • In-store wifi to help them share their shopping experience;
  • A rental locker system to allow them drop-off heavy school bags before shopping;
  • Targeted student deals, discounts and offers;
  • And more city centre and in-store seating.

CBA President, Philip Gillivan, said they are now planning to host workshops at the start of the academic year between students and retailers.

"The students will be given be given an opportunity to engage directly with the CBA's retail committee in a dual-learning setting. We are of the firm belief that we can learn just as much from them as they can from us.

Students want to have their voice heard - they want to be part of the conversation and they feel they can bring solutions to the problems. They are tomorrow's shoppers and consumers - let's keep the conversation going."

The CBA linked up with the city council and St Angela's College last year. With teacher Muireann Curtin they devised a year-long business module for the transition year students. The CBA engaged with Julia Campi, from Sao Paulo, who worked on similar projects in Brazil, to facilitate the project.

The students examined the products available in Cork, how much the youth market consume these products, how they rate the overall retail experience. They surveyed up to 400 students, ranging in age from 13 - 18.

The CBA said while the results are not scientific, they do give valuable  insight into the trends.

The survey found that 82% of students spend an average of up to €50 a month online; 64% spend up to €64 over the counter per month, while 27% spend between €100 and €150 over the counter per month. The spend includes food and drink.

It found that students generally spend their money with a retailer with whom they have an online relationship, and feel more comfortable entering a store they feel they know.

Of the 24 retailers surveyed, only half offered online purchasing, and many offered student discounts to third-level students only.

The survey also showed the students want to support environmentally responsible retailers who will, for example, accept returned packaging or who sell coffee in reusable cups. The CBA hopes to expand the academic module to more schools next year.


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