Shoppers find first cut is the deepest


Deeper price cuts than last year and a less harsh than expected budget made for a buoyant opening to the winter sales yesterday, according to retailers.

Around the State sales were reported to be busier than on the same day last year.

David Fitzsimons, chief executive of Retail Excellence Ireland, said the next few days would be crucial for the sector and he predicted big discounts across particularly “big-ticket” items such as furniture and electronics, as well as on the “big buys” in clothing such as coats and footwear.

In Cork city, queues gathered outside Mahon Point shopping centre before stores there opened, while Limerick also reported a busy trade despite morning rain.

Leesa Kavanagh, retail director of Arnotts, said the post-Christmas sales were almost as important to business as the run-up to Christmas.

“It’s really important we offer true value, true savings to consumers to attract them in and make the sales.”

Although many shops, including Dunnes Stores, Shaws, McElhinneys and Marks Spencer, do not begin their sales until today, there was a definite first-day-of-the-sales air in the main Dublin shopping streets by mid-morning yesterday.

Among those first out of bed was Frank O’Neill, who was standing with his young son in his arms, several shopping bags at his feet, outside BT2 on Grafton Street. By 9.30am, he and his wife had been in town since 7am.

“We’re just over from Australia and the kids wouldn’t sleep last night so we just decided to come into the city.”

Originally from Ringsend, Dublin, he said he had been in Australia for 20 years. Asked which outlet they hit first, he said: “McDonald’s. And then Next.” The latter began its sale at 6am.

Stephen Seely, managing director of Brown Thomas, was “very pleased” with the first day of its sale, saying there were a “couple of hundred people waiting outside” for the 9am opening.

“We’ve gone for deep cuts straight away in the sale, of up to 60 per cent. We want to get stock moving, get the autumn-winter stock cleared so we can fill the store with new spring-summer stock.”

As usual, handbags were among the most popular items across its Cork, Galway, Limerick and Dublin branches.

The Grafton Street accessories department was mobbed yesterday as tables piled high were inspected and sorted in the search for such items as a black leather Mulberry handbag, down from €810 to €567, or an Alexander McQueen iPad holder, down from €235 to €164.50.

There were queues into the Gucci section as new summer stock, from such labels as Miu Miu (black leather clutches a snip at €600) lay untouched for now.

On Henry Street, Arnotts shoes and handbags departments also proved popular. Price cuts were on a par with other years, at about 50 per cent, said Ms Kavanagh.

“We did advertise strongly on the fact there would be 30,000 pairs of shoes and 5,500 handbags on sale and we always stress that it is a genuine sale.” Departments such as Coach leather were “heaving”, she said.

In Limerick, Emer Spencer from Tipperary was among those queuing for handbags in Brown Thomas. “I didn’t think the queues would be this long,” she said. She didn’t regret facing the crowds during the sale, although she would have preferred more of a reduction.