Dundalk has been badly affected by the boom in cross-border shopping — but the UK’s Budget could offer a glimmer of hope to the beleaguered town.
Several retailers, including supermarket Superquinn, have already shut up shop in Dundalk as euro-wise residents opt to do their grocery shopping north of the border.
Bill Tosh, chief executive of the town’s chamber of commerce, said the rise in alcohol duty announced in yesterday’s budget would affect the regular trips made by residents in the Republic to load up on booze north of the border, where it is significantly cheaper.
“It will have a serious impact on the draw of alcohol, which really is one of the big attractions north of the border.”
Tesco Ireland estimates that 4% of the Republic’s grocery market has moved to Northern Ireland over the last 12 months.
But a decision made by Tesco Ireland this week could also end the cross-border shopping love-in.
“They are adopting a suggestion I made nine months ago that they do their purchasing for Tesco Ireland in the same block as Tesco in the UK,” Mr Tosh said.
“That will have a constructive impact on differentials between north and south.”
Tony Keohane, chief executive of Tesco Ireland, has said 2008 was “challenging” and that a move to international buying was a response to weak consumer demand and cross-border shopping.
In general, Mr Tosh feels yesterday’s stringent Budget gives the UK a slight taste of the medicine doled out in the Republic, still smarting from a punishing budget announced by finance minister Brian Lenihan earlier this month.
“I have been wearing my hairshirt for a while and it’s been making me squirm, so now you’ll be wearing one too,” was his message for those living north of the border.