Retailers happy with strong start to winter sales

Shoppers have been flooding stores across the State in search of bargains, say retailers

Grafton Street: Brown Thomas managing director Stephen Sealy said  “bad weather did not seem to put too many people off”. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Grafton Street: Brown Thomas managing director Stephen Sealy said “bad weather did not seem to put too many people off”. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

 

The winter sales have started strongly and shoppers have been flooding stores across the State in search of bargains, according to retailers and their representatives.

While the queues outside Penneys, Brown Thomas, JD Sports, River Island and Arnotts in Dublin were not as long as they may have been in previous years when the official sales period started on December 26th, the flow of human traffic was still more than enough to satisfy most shop owners.

“We’ve become a savvy nation with many consumers postponing some purchases such as fashion, footwear and homewares until the sale period,” said Lynn Drumgoole of Retail Excellence Ireland (REI).

“Retailers are reporting increased trading levels when compared to last year and average transaction values are up.

“The post-Christmas period from the 26th-31st December is the busiest and most important time for many, and fashion retailers in particular.”

Some shoppers could not wait for the doors of bricks-and-mortar shops to open in the post-Christmas period, and online sales – which started while Santa was still delivering his presents – boomed with some deep discounts made available as early as Christmas Eve.

According to REI, online retailing experienced a milestone in Ireland in 2015 “with the growth across many sectors and the emergence of Black Friday as a significant event in the Irish retail calendar”.

“Footfall will increase further over the weekend and into next week as more stores commence their post-Christmas sales,” Ms Drumgoole said.

‘Very happy’

Brown Thomas managing director Stephen Sealy told The Irish Times he was “very happy” with how things had progressed over the course of the weekend.

He suggested the “bad weather did not seem to put too many people off” and said there had been a definite bounce in year-on-year numbers, which was “very encouraging”. He added that the strong start to the sales had come on the back of a “very good run-up to Christmas”.

The managing director of Arnotts, Donald McDonald, was similarly upbeat. “Trading has exceeded expectations . . . with our menswear, ladies’ accessories and technology departments seeing strong demand. Overall, sales are significantly ahead of last year, both in-store and online.”

Upbeat

There was a similarly upbeat report from Anthony Ryan’s in Galway. Owner Anthony Ryan said the pre-Christmas period had been “pretty good” and he estimated sales over the Christmas period were between 3 and 5 per cent up on last year.

“Across all departments sales are up, and men are back spending, thanks be to God,” he said. “It’s nothing like it used to be at the height of the boom but at least we have halted the retail decline.”

In the Athlone Town Centre, where the sale started at 6am on St Stephen’s Day, footfall was said to be considerably up on last year.

“It’s been great, there have been crowds pouring in almost since we opened the doors on Saturday,” a spokeswoman said.