The troubles facing ailing High Street icon Woolworths brought shoppers out in droves as stores across Northern Ireland offered discounts of up to 50% on stock. Matthew McCreary spoke to customers at two of its shops in Belfast to hear their memories of the store and their opinions on its sad decline
Eager shoppers got the chance to snap up some Christmas deals on goods such as CDs, DVDs, toys and sweets as the once mighty Woolworth’s store opened itself to a bargain-hungry public.
At the Woolworth’s store at Cityside in north Belfast, shopper Maggy McNally said she was saddened that the chain might face closure.
“I love Woolworth’s, I think what’s happening is terrible, but it has gone down a bit in recent years,” she said.
“They don’t sell the stuff they used to. There was always a good bargain and they had everything, but you go in now and there is sometimes just rubbish. But I would still go for the sweets.
“I’m very disappointed it might be closing. If I had the money I’d buy it myself!”
Marie-Claire Doran said she had not bought anything in the store for some time.
“It was far better when it was in the city centre,” she said.
“I haven’t bought anything in it this year.”
Clare Cromie said she had bought some Christmas presents at the store.
“We’ve been getting clothes and other bits and bobs like stocking fillers,” she said.
Lynn McIlroy said: “I used to go in years ago for CDs and DVDs but when the supermarkets started doing those things you went to them.”
Fellow shopper Amanda Jefferson said she was unhappy that more items were not marked down by half.
“They said it was up to 50% off but most of the stuff is only 10 or 20% off,” she said.
West Belfast woman Maura McGarry said she was also unhappy with the amount of goods on offer.
“We thought it was 50% off, but all the good stuff was taken,” she said.
“People came for things like TVs that were there last week. We came down from west Belfast today.”
At the Woolworth’s store in the Park Centre, Eleanor Rice said she had bought much of her Christmas shopping in the sale.
“I got everything I needed for Christmas, the place was queued out,” she said.
“I would miss Woolworth's if it closed. I go there for kid’s pyjamas as they’re normally a good price.
“I remember it from when I used to go in with my mum and granny.”
Ann McGuckin said she had been visiting Woolworth’s for several years.
“I’m always in it, there is always something you pick up,” she said.
“If you couldn’t get it in town you would always head to Woolworths. I would be sorry to see it go, it was brilliant, it was always very good for families.”
Nora Hughes said she shopped at the store to take advantage of the good offers.
“It was always good for the parents getting toys for their kids,” she said.
“They always did things like 3 for 2 offers and buy one get one free.”
Aunt and niece Marie McIlwaine and Lynn McIlroy from the Whiterock area said they also had fond memories of the store.
“I would miss it, from when I was wee I always remembered Woolworths being open,” said Ms McIlwaine.
“I would buy toys and things like that.”