Belfast Telegraph

Southern shoppers flock to Outlet

By Laurence White

Southern shoppers benefiting from a favourable exchange rate and Northern Ireland’s lower VAT rate are flocking to The Outlet retail park in Banbridge.

The development has seen a 146% rise in shoppers from across the border in the past year, helping to boost sales by one third in the 12 months to February.

The average spend per shopper has increased by more than 16% in the same period, according to the park’s management.

Euan Forbes, centre manager said: “Our retailers are certainly benefiting from a consistent flow of traffic from the South.

“Weekend trade is strong and the recent half term break saw a huge increase in day-trippers making the journey.

“We are clearly very much on the agenda of the travelling shopper and our location on the A1 is obviously attractive to Southern traffic making their way into Northern Ireland.”

Some of the household brands at the centre, such as Gap, Marks & Spencer and Nike are among the top three performing stores in their respective UK portfolios. The shopping boom has also had a beneficial spin-off for the local hospitality industry.

Wayne Kerrigan, duty manager of the Downshire Arms Hotel in Banbridge said: “We have definitely seen an increase in ‘overnighters' from the South. The guests are realising that Banbridge is an ideal stopover for shopping in both Newry and Belfast and obviously The Outlet is a big draw. Our guests are turning shopping trips into weekend breaks.”

Belfast Telegraph