Budget, consumer confidence bring festive cheer for retailers

Transaction surge creates glitch for some Permanent TSB cardholders

Bernie Darcy  selling Christmas wreaths on Moore Street, Dublin. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Bernie Darcy selling Christmas wreaths on Moore Street, Dublin. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Tue, Dec 24, 2013, 01:02

Whisper it but the retail trade is ever so slightly kicking its heels in the air and crossing its fingers that the weather will be as kind as business has been of late and deliver a better Christmas spend than last year.

“The view is that this Christmas is stronger and better than last year,” says David Brennan, chief executive of the Dublin City Business Association.

As an indication of the volume of business, at lunchtime yesterday, some Permanent TSB cardholders found temporary difficulty completing transactions. A number of card sales were “timed out” when clearing computers were unable to cope with the volume of sales within the time allowed for processing, usually 20 or 30 seconds.

AIB reported no recurrence of its earlier and separate ATM/debit card problem.

With today being the final shopping day before Christmas (but only one day to go before the start of the post-Christmas sales – Dunnes Stores online sale starting on Christmas Day), several people in the retail section said they expected this year’s spending season to be as good as, if not a little better, than last year.

Several factors are at play – a general rise in the level of consumer confidence, the weather (bad for some; good for others), and what retailers regard as an “extra day” for shopping compared to last year.

“It’s been a good few days,” says Don Nugent, director of Dundrum Town Centre, one of the main south Dublin retail centres.

“The weather did have a role to play – first the mild weather didn’t do anything for sales of coats and the like, but then we had the adverse weather, which is good for us with our covered car park and with the centre itself being indoors.”

Overall, he expects this year to be “at least as good as last year”.

For Mr Brennan and Dublin city traders, the season got off to a good start with the mid-October budget.

“We absolutely totally, utterly welcome the early budget,” he said. “It certainly is more advantageous to an area that employs many people who are dependent on trade and spending for their livelihoods.”

With the budget out of the way, and perhaps not as awful as some feared it might be, people were a “little more relaxed”; come the Christmas spending season, there was “much more consumer confidence” compared to last year.

He also praised the Luas, Dart and Dublin Bus for providing services people were using in increasing numbers, and the Garda Síochána traffic management which kept vehicles moving.

“People are coming into town again. Restaurants and licences premises are doing very well. The lower Vat rate for restaurants, which was kept in the budget, has made, and continues to make, a big difference.”

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