Retailers reported brisk footfall levels as the sector fully reopened on Monday, with Dundrum Town Centre saying that the number of shoppers breached pre-pandemic levels during the afternoon.
"I was expecting footfall to be down on normal,"said Don Nugent, the centre's director. "But when we measured footfall at 3pm, it was 11 per cent ahead of where it was at the same time, on the same day in 2019."
Speaking in the late afternoon, he said he was expecting the centre to be “quite busy” in the evening with most retailers trading late, although some were closing earlier due to staffing issues.
"There were queues at 8am outside shops including Zara, Marks & Spencer and TK Maxx. The centre was nowhere near maximum capacity. It was very measured and steady all day," he said.
Mr Nugent said anecdotal reports and “chatter” suggested mens formal wear shops were extremely busy: “People have started setting dates for weddings that were delayed.”
City centre traders group, Dublin Town, was measuring footfall in prime shopping areas, although Richard Guiney, its chief executive, said detailed data was not yet available. It was expected that city centre locations would be less busy than shopping centres as city locations depend heavily on trade from office workers. However, many city offices remain closed.
“It was busy, although Henry Street [on the city’s northside] was busier than Grafton Street [on the south],” he said. “We are unlikely to hit 2019 levels as, at this time of year, office workers and visitors would make up 25 per cent of footfall and hospitality outlets are also still closed.”
Duncan Graham, chief executive of sectoral lobby group, Retail Excellence, said anecdotal evidence suggested footfall was "not massively up" on normal trading periods but "average transaction values are significantly up".
“It was a relatively calm start that built throughout the day. Shopping centres have been pretty good, city centres less so,” he said.
Arnold Dillon of Retail Ireland, a division of Ibec, said some of its members told him footfall was ahead of a "normal Monday. But the conversion rate is very high".
Penneys said footfall was "very busy" at its 36 stores, which reopened a week ago for appointment shopping: "We have extended opening hours in place all week, which will help to reduce queues and spread demand."