Around a quarter of all shoppers using one of Northern Ireland’s largest retail complexes are coming from across the border, it emerged today.
Hundreds of cross-border shoppers are flocking into Derry’s Foyleside Shopping Centre daily, as people from Donegal and beyond take advantage of the increasingly strong euro.
The centre’s manager Des Farrell said a study of the car parks over the past few months showed 20 to 25% of cars at the centre had Republic of Ireland registrations. He added this was before the most recent drop in the value of sterling against the euro, which this week reached its lowest value since the euro was introduced.
The euro is now worth more than 81p. Many retailers are offering competitive rates in Derry and other border towns across Northern Ireland, including Strabane. Mr Farrell said the cross-border traffic was offsetting the credit crunch for many local traders.
“Derry will be benefiting from a retail point of view” he said. “If it stays this way retailers could be rubbing their hands in the run up to Christmas. Strabane, Enniskillen, Newry and other locations are also benefiting while other areas not so close to the border will not.”
Strabane Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice-president Joe Barber meanwhile today called for better harmonisation between Strabane’s town centre and the the larger retail outlets on the edge of town to ensure all local traders benefit from cross-border shopping.
He said: “Like most towns affected by the credit crunch we are probably being cushioned a bit by the euro trade.
“We are looking to the council and the DSD to improve the links between the edge of town retail parks and big stores like Asda and the town centre to help benefit the town centre.”
Across the border, Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce today reported that traders were feeling the pinch.