Retailers report best Christmas sales period in five years

Sales began early with more shops offering discounts online on Christmas Day

Shoppers are out in force in Dublin for the sales despite the bad weather. Arnotts Dept Store opened it’s doors at 9am and the queue featured for the first time many young male customers according to Arnotts CEO Ray Hernan. Video: Bryan O’Brien

 

Men were out in force in the winter sales too with major retailers expressing surprise at the number of male shoppers hunting for bargains.

An unusually high number of men armed with gift vouchers meant some of the greatest demand was for designer suits, shirts and shoes.

“We’re seeing a younger, male customer,” said Ray Hernan, Arnotts chief executive. “We’ve never seen young guys queuing for a 9 o’clock opening on St Stephen’s Day.”

Very strategic Kenny Robertson, director of Harvey Nichols Dublin, was also struck by the number of men making up the numbers. “Men tend to be very strategic,” he said.

“They want to look great and they want a bargain. And maybe they want to avoid the washing-up as well.”

Robertson said demand for fashion and accessories was also strong and is upbeat at overall sales, up about 14 per cent on the same period last year. At Brown Thomas, sales were also up on last year. Here, though, shoppers were following a more traditional pattern.

“The men headed straight for the menswear,” said managing director of Brown Thomas, Stephen Sealey.

“With women, it was bags, followed by shoes. followed by ready-to-wear and then homeware. You can see the sales moving through the building like that.”

Retail Ireland, the main industry group for the trade, says figures suggest it will be the best Christmas for five years.

It has forecast a 2 per cent rise in the sales worth €80 million. But it says a surge between now and the New Year is needed to hit those levels.

“After a number of very difficult years for retailers, this was the first Christmas where a strong performance was forecast,” said Thomas Burke, director of Retail Ireland.