Irish shoppers 'set to splash €40m' on Black Friday spree

‘The general view out there is that this is the first big weekend of the Christmas period’

The impact of Brexit, tax changes and global supply chain issues have presented Irish retailers with a chance to win new customers and ensure more spending stays local over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday period according to retail groups.

Close to €40 million will be spent by Irish consumers on Friday alone, according to research from AIB, with this weekend now marking the start of the Christmas season for many shops and shoppers.

While deep discounting at the end of November is being resisted by some smaller operations, others have embraced it and are hoping it will be a launchpad for a solid Christmas.

“I think the general view out there is that this first big weekend of the Christmas period and in these more difficult times it is being used as a footfall driver,” said Retail Excellence chief executive Duncan Graham.

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He said he understood why some smaller independent retailers continued to resist going into sale so close to Christmas but added that for others it had become an inevitability.

“There have been mixed views,” he said. “In some cases it can be a case of wanting to hold the margins for as long as possible otherwise it ends up being a short season.”

He noted that an air of optimism he had seen across the retail sector at the start of the month had diminished in recent weeks as the trajectory of Covid-19 grew more concerning.

“There is a little bit of unease and anxiety at what might happen in retail and so much will depend on the path of the virus,” he said.

Buy Irish

Bríd O’Connell of Guaranteed Irish said Black Friday should be considered an opportunity for retailers to push more locally sourced products.

“We are asking all shops to stock more Irish suppliers,” she said. “The support for local shops only goes so far if everything the shop stocks comes from China.”

She called on consumers to look towards Irish-made products this weekend. “If you are buying a candle, I really would like to see people buy an Irish luxury candle . . . and if we could all spend an extra €20 or €50 on an Irish product this year that money will stay in the country and make a big difference to the local economy.”

Joann (SIC) Mahon is going all in on Black Friday this year. She owns two retail outlets in Kildare and has an increasingly large digital footprint.

“A lot of people spend a lot of time researching ahead of time and I think that there are more eyes on your business as a result,” she said.

“I embraced Black Friday early and I could really see the impact,” she continued. “Every year it has grown and it can generate long term custom if it done right but most people won’t come back again unless they are properly encouraged to do so.”

She said that since the start of the pandemic she had noticed a bounce in business as more people shopped locally and it had kept going this year. “I haven’t seen the drop off from last year from April of last year. People want to support Irish and that has been boosted by Brexit.”

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor