Retailers say Christmas trade strong
Retailers have experienced strong trading in the Republic in the run up to Christmas, but recent protests and a strong pound have put pressure on shops in Belfast.
Retail Ireland director Stephen Lynam said that its members had experienced trade which is either the same or better than last year, something he said was most pronounced in Dublin.
“Last year was better than the year before that – if you remember everybody was snowed in two years ago – so, if our reality matches the optimism out there among retailers, this year is shaping up to be the best Christmas in several years,” he said.
“The way the calendar fell this year, today and yesterday were expected to be the biggest shopping days of the year, notwithstanding the usual Christmas Eve rush,” he added.
At least part of the increase in trade in Dublin was a result of people travelling from Belfast due to a favourable exchange rate and unrest caused by protests and marches following the city council’s decision to limit the flying of the British flag at Belfast’s City Hall.
Glyn Roberts, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association said that there was “no doubt the protests had resulted in less trade being done” in Belfast, adding that, as a result many people had either bought online, gone to out-of-town outlets or travelled to the Republic to do their shopping.
“It’s been a bad end to a bad year – many retailers were hoping for a good Christmas, but in Belfast, for many that obviously wasn’t the case,” he said.
Back on Henry Street in Dublin last minute shoppers had helped boost trade for retailers. Sharon Mohan, operations manager in Arnotts, Dublin said that Christmas momentum had built significantly this week.
“As usual the trend this weekend has been a huge amount of men in buying in our beauty, jewellery and accessory departments. Business has been difficult this year but we have seen an increase in business this week on the same period last year and we’re happy with how we’ve ended up,” she said.