Retailers expect Christmas bounce


It is too soon to know how last week’s budget cuts will affect Christmas sales, but early signs suggest that we are still willing to splash out for the festive season – perhaps even more so than usual.

At 2.45pm yesterday, Ann McNamee hadn’t had time for lunch, so busy was her Dublin shop Kitchen Complements. The kitchen supply store had seen “phenomenal” sales of “everything to do with baking”, Ms McNamee said. She credited the recession with the resurgence in popularity of cost-effective activities such as home cooking and baking.

The strong sales at Kitchen Complements are consistent with a surprising national trend, which suggests holiday shoppers are determined to buy in spite of the bleak economic climate.

“Retail sales have risen for the fourth month in a row compared with the same period last year,” said Andrew Smyth of Dublin Chamber of Commerce. “We would expect this trend to continue.”

Tom Monaghan, owner of clothing shop Monaghan’s in Dublin, said: “Sales are as good as last year, if not better,” as a veritable mob of shoppers sifted through cashmere jumpers to the tune of Oh Come All Ye Faithful.

Tesco, too, has reported healthy sales in the run-up to the Christmas spree.

“We had a busy weekend,” said Séamus Banim, a representative of the retail and grocery giant. “The demand for toys kicked off at the start of December and we have also seen a big increase in demand for womenswear and children’s clothes.”

Retail Excellence Ireland chief executive David Fitzsimons said: “People are coming into the stores really well informed. People are seeking out value; they do a lot of online shopping and comparison. . . [and] are still getting their heads around where they stand financially.”