Belfast Telegraph

Shoppers from Republic keep Northern Ireland tills ringing

By Rachel Martin

Shoppers hit the high street in their droves as retailers across Northern Ireland launched their annual post-Christmas sales.

Traditionally the biggest day in our retail calendar, Boxing Day might now be rivalled by Black Friday and early discounting, but many still long for a post-turkey deal.

Some shoppers outside Belfast's Lush store waited for more than an hour just to get inside.

And in lingerie store Boux Avenue the queue snaked around the shop before it reached the counter.

Cattery worker Michelle Collins from Millisle (43) had been waiting an hour just to see what cosmetic shop Lush had to offer.

The queue stretched down the street where 19-year-old student Victoria Farr said she had already been waiting around 20 minutes to get her hands on some of the brand's shower gel.

Irene Janabi from Castlereagh was out with her daughter Zara (14), who was after some trainers.

Irene said: "We've been in a few shops but we're just looking for sports clothes, really. My daughter is a dancer with AgenDance so it's a good time of year to buy her things to wear for that - it can be expensive the rest of the year but you always get good deals after Christmas."

Sue Yin (24) and Yaqi Li (25), students from China living in Belfast, said they were happy with what was on offer in the sales.

Figures suggest fewer Britons will go sales shopping this year than in the past.

A quarter of Britons (23%) will partake in the Boxing Day sales, down from 32% last year, according to Barclaycard.

But people were predicted to go on a £3.85bn bargain hunt yesterday, spending £2.95bn on the high street and another £900m online. Glyn Roberts of the NI Independent Retail Trade Association, said members were largely happy with how the day went yesterday.

He said: "Boxing Day is an integral part of the retail 'harvest'. So far 2016 has been a mixed bag, so a busy Christmas sale season will be crucial to making or breaking the year."

Clements coffee director Nigel Roddy said three of his four stores which opened yesterday saw a 10% increase in the number of customers compared to the year before.

Many people from the Republic are shopping in the North because of the weak pound.

Peter Lavery (26) and Dearbhla Molloy (25) from Dublin are originally from Belfast, and were heading to Victoria Square.

"We've been up visiting our families, but we thought we should check out the sales while we're here," Dearbhla said.

"We bought most things for Christmas in Dublin but we really should have taken advantage of the exchange rate; things are a lot cheaper here." Peter Murray from Newry's Buttercrane Shopping Centre said shoppers from the Republic were the "icing on the cake".

"We've had a record number of gift card sales this year - up 16% year-on-year," he said.

"Our core customers are still the local customers but we've seen a huge increase in the numbers from the South. This month 22% of our shoppers were from there compared to 12% in 2015."

Belfast Telegraph

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