The chief executive of Londonderry’s Chamber of Commerce says she believes next month's VAT increase in the Republic from 21% to 23% will have a beneficial effect on firms north of the border.
Sinead McLaughlin said a quarter of cars in the city’s Foyleside shopping centre car parks last weekend had Republic of Ireland registration plates, most of them from Co Donegal.
She said: “We in the chamber do believe that the VAT increase, to be announced by the Dublin government, will result in more and more people from Donegal and from further afield in the Republic of Ireland coming to Derry to do their Christmas shopping.
“We have noticed a significant change in shopping patterns in that shopping is now more planned than ever before. With the value of the Euro at £0.86, roughly the same as this time last year, we expect the extra 2% in terms of the VAT increase to work in our favour.
Ms McLaughlin added: “Consumer confidence has gone down and everyone is making considered judgments before deciding where and on what to spend their money.
“People are more muted in terms of spending and they are more cautious. They are looking for the best bargains.
“Our local retailers are really stepping up to the mark after what has been a very quiet year so far.
“We think the price of clothes and electrical items such as mobile phones and computers will be a particular attraction for shoppers from down south this Christmas.”
The Chamber of Commerce in Derry has 500 members with a combined workforce in the region of 20,000 people.