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Christmas countdown begun already as Selfridges opens festive store while Northern Ireland hotel has 600 bookings for yule nosh

By Claire McNeilly

Published 04/08/2015

A Christmas elf with a toy reindeer as Selfridges launches its Christmas Shop at its flagship store in London
A Christmas elf with a toy reindeer as Selfridges launches its Christmas Shop at its flagship store in London
Selfridges launches its Christmas Shop at its flagship store in London - and Santa pays a visit
David Meade

It's the middle of summer and even Halloween feels a long way off - but already local businesses are getting into the spirit of Christmas.

Northern Ireland restaurants and hotels are boasting bookings five months ahead of the festive period, while consumers are also being encouraged to pick their entertainment at this early stage.

And Selfridges in London threw open the doors of its Christmas store yesterday with 142 shopping days to spare before December 25.

The department store proudly claims to be the first in the world to launch its shop, with the North Pole-themed space set to welcome avid shoppers who clearly want it to be Christmas everyday.

More than 700sq ft of space on the fourth floor of the flagship has been decked out with over 100,000 festive decorations.

Customers can choose from more than 300 different crackers, almost 450 Christmas tree styles and some 200 different styles of decorations.

The Ramada Encore at Talbot Street in Belfast city centre has already secured 600 bookings for Christmas dinner.

Front of house supervisor Conor Maguire said the menu was posted on their website two months ago and demand is high.

"We don't normally advertise so early but we have been getting a lot of requests," he said.

"Our target for the month of December is 5,000 covers and we already have 600 people booked."

At Jury's Inn on Great Victoria Street duty manager Lynn McGlone said its brochure went out in June.

She said: "It does seem as though Christmas is getting earlier but we have some bookings already."

Meanwhile, the TV star performer, entertainer and mentalist David Meade is advertising a series of "magically and wonderfully unique" Christmas shows across Northern Ireland.

For £20 fans can sign up for one of two three-hour shows at the Everglades Hotel in Londonderry on December 3, one of many locations he is to perform at.

A hotel spokesman was last night unable to confirm how may people had signed up for the events. There are also two shows planned for Meade at Slieve Donard Resort and Spa on December 27.

Donald McFetridge, University of Ulster retail expert, said shops were keen to take their share of the Christmas market.

He said: "Christmas seems to be coming earlier and earlier every year and that's not necessarily a good thing.

On one hand it gives consumers a chance to spread their spending over a longer period of time, but on the other many people say it dilutes the spirit of Christmas.

"It's getting to the point that we're going to have some seasonal products in some stores all-year round."

He added: "Gone are the days when there was a big drive by retailers at the end of the year.

"With pressures from the internet these days, this is probably one of the main ways they believe they can fight back."

Two years ago a west Belfast man raised eyebrows when he put up a Christmas tree as early as October.

It sparked a trend, with Christmas trees subsequently popping up in a variety of places across the province including Larne, Carryduff and Moneymore.

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