Shoppers from the Republic are still finding the lure of northern retailers irresistible, according to the owners of designer outlet development, The Outlet in Banbridge.
They reported an increase of 15.7% in car traffic from south of the border during the recent August bank holiday in the Republic compared to last June's ba nk holiday.
The Outlet has been one of the main shopping destinations for shoppers from the Republic since before Christmas last year.
Jonathan Smyth, destination marketing manager with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board said: “Between January and March 2009 our holiday visitor numbers from the Republic have increased by 100% when compared to the same period in 2008.
“This is great news for the local economy as tourism revenue from this market also continues to grow. This growth has been fuelled by the unique experiences that Northern Ireland can offer visitors, including a superb range of world class attractions and fantastic shopping. NITB continues to proactively market to ROI shoppers, encouraging them to extend their stay in Northern Ireland.”
The retail offering at The Outlet attracting ROI shoppers includes 64 designer and high street stores, 30 of which are available in no other outlet centre in Ireland including key brands Gap, Bench, Timberland, and Vans, all offering up to 70% off RRP all year round.
Euan Forbes, centre manager of The Outlet, added: “We have been attracting retail tourists since we opened in April 2007 and The Outlet is benefiting from the NITB’s strategic approach to highly targeted marketing campaigns designed to capitalise on the obvious opportunity a strong euro brings us all.
“There are clear synergies between the recent NITB ROI marketing campaign and our own.
“Our retailers are sustaining their places at the very top of their company portfolios and we even have stores reporting sales growth of 39% year to date year on year.
“At The Outlet we are working closely with the NITB and our local attractions such as the new FE McWilliams Art Gallery, a £2.2m investment located right beside the complex and the Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen factory in Banbridge to ensure our Irish shoppers make the most of their trip north.”
The location of The Outlet is another factor in the centre’s success. It is situated on the A1 between Newry and Belfast, just 15 minutes north of the border, thereby giving ROI visitors ease of access plus over 1,500 free car parking spaces.