Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Northern Ireland shoppers heading to Republic for bargains

Cross-border shopping has gone full circle -- with consumers from Northern Ireland now heading south for bargains.

Retailers in the Republic have got a boost as a weak euro makes it more attractive for shoppers to spend money here.

Consumers can save more than €90 on items like iPads by visiting the same high street stores south of the Border.

Traders say the increase in shoppers coming to the Republic has made this the best summer for businesses in five years.

The euro/sterling exchange rate has dropped to 78p for €1.

A few years ago some shops were offering a one-to-one exchange rate.

The price shift is underlined by a survey of goods in Currys electrical stores and Tesco supermarkets in Derry and Letterkenny.

We returned and surveyed the same items we had priced in November last year.

We found that in Currys:

  • An iPad 2 with wifi with 3G was €90 cheaper when bought in the South -- last year it was €11 more expensive
  • A Sony laptop which was €15 more expensive in the Republic last year is now almost €50 cheaper
  • An Amazon Kindle is €11 cheaper south of the Border.

And while most groceries are still more expensive in the Republic, differences are small.

Some household items in both Currys and Tesco remain inexplicably dearer -- with a 50-inch 3D TV costing €100 more at the former and a set of four AA lithium batteries in Tesco almost twice the price of the same items in Northern Ireland.

For the first time since 2007, however, shoppers from Northern Ireland are returning south.

Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce has launched a TV, newspaper and billboard advertising campaign in Northern Ireland.

Chief executive Toni Forrester told the Irish Independent: "The sterling take in the town is definitely increasing, particularly over the last few weeks.

"While many use cards to shop one retailer reported that sterling cash take was up 30pc in July compared to 2011 and up 70pc against 2010.

"Others are reporting that they are seeing shoppers coming in coaches from across Donegal and, for the first time in a number of years, from Northern Ireland."

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