‘It’s all bags’ says street trader as Christmas wrapping paper sales collapse

Last-minute shoppers warned that train and bus services wrap up earlier than usual

Shoppers in Dublin city centre on Sunday afternoon. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Shoppers in Dublin city centre on Sunday afternoon. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

“No one’s buying wrapping paper this year,” said Evan Ryan, a stall worker on Dublin’s Henry Street, as he pointed to boxes containing rolls of wrapping paper piled up at the back of the stall. “It’s all bags,” he said.

He was among several of the on-street traders who reported a significant drop in the sale of wrapping paper this Christmas.

Another trader, Rose Herron, who has been selling goods on Henry Street from her family’s stall for 40 years, said Christmas paper bags have become far more popular in recent years. It’s because “people are getting lazy and don’t want to wrap”, she says.

Ms Herron also said business for stall traders who temporarily set up on the street each Christmas is getting “worse and worse each year” because “people are going to the shopping centres”. “But we’ll keep going. We still get our dinner out of it,” she added.

’ll be buying for next Christmas in a couple of weeks time and I know I’ll be buying more of that type of [eco-friendly] paper

The gift bag trend is backed by the manager of one of Ireland’s leading suppliers of gift packaging, Windmill Distributors. Fergus Corbett said he believed “bags have had a strong year this year”.

He said the trend in wrapping paper was “definitely moving towards more eco-friendly paper. I’ll be buying for next Christmas in a couple of weeks time and I know I’ll be buying more of that type of [eco-friendly] paper.”

Environmental groups have been urging consumers to use more sustainable packaging during the festive period.

Ireland is expected to produce 86,000 tonnes of packaging waste over Christmas, according to the recycling body, Repak. This is an increase of 3,000 tonnes for the same period in 2017.

Christmas gift bags: "People are getting lazy and don’t want to wrap.” File photograph: Getty Images
Christmas gift bags: "People are getting lazy and don’t want to wrap.” File photograph: Getty Images

Paper bags are “a good way to reuse things over and over again”, said a spokeswoman for environmental charity, Voice (Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment). It encourages consumers to support local businesses.

If you are buying locally, you avoid a lot of the shipping packaging, you support your local shops and it keeps the money within the community

“A lot of waste can be avoided through more cautious consumption. When you’re buying something, think about what’s going to happen to it at the end of its life,” said Voice’s co-ordinator Mindy O’Brien.

Ms O’Brien flagged online shopping as a significant contributor to packaging waste.

“If you’re not buying locally, if you’re buying online, you’re going to have a lot of subsequent packing from shipping . . . the amount of packaging generated from online shopping has increased dramatically [in recent years],” she said.

“If you are buying locally, you avoid a lot of the shipping packaging, you support your local shops and it keeps the money within the community.”

A spokesman for Repak also warned households not to recycle sellotape and non-recyclable wrapping paper because “both materials end up contaminating recyclable material”.

Public transport

Meanwhile last-minute Christmas shoppers have been warned that public transport services will finish early on Christmas Eve.

Dart and Dublin rail commuter services, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann will operate until about 9pm (8pm for Heuston routes). In Dublin, Luas trams will operate until 8pm.

Intercity train services will operate a regular service until about 8pm, while Cork commuter rail services will operate a Saturday service until about 6.30pm.

There will be no rail, Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann or Luas services on Christmas Day. Rail services will not operate on St Stephen’s Day and they will resume on Thursday. Dublin Bus, Luas and Bus Éireann will resume services on St Stephen’s Day.