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NI set to enjoy rush of festive cross-border gift shoppers

By Charlie Weston

Published 15/11/2016

Irish shoppers are set to flock across the border into Northern Ireland in their thousands to buy Christmas presents, a new survey predicts.

And the collapse in the value of sterling after the UK's vote to leave the EU is hitting the sales in shops in the Republic.

One in four adults have already gone to Northern Ireland or the rest of the UK to shop.

And these people now intend to buy again in the sterling zone in the next three months, according to a survey by iReach for media agency MediaCom.

Sterling is down almost a fifth in value against the euro since the summer referendum vote in favour of Britain leaving the European Union, making goods priced in pounds good value.

Shoppers from the Republic planning to travel to Northern Ireland or to England will do so to buy presents for Christmas, the survey of 1,000 people shows.

Other popular purchases in the sterling zone included clothing, followed by alcohol and groceries. Electronic devices, cosmetics and toys were lower down on the list.

Northern Irish shopping centres close to the border have seen an increase in the number of southern-registered cars parked outside them.

Irish shoppers said they compare prices in euro and sterling online before deciding which purchases to travel to buy, the survey indicates. They then research which sterling outlet has the best deal before setting off on their journey. This is known as "reverse-showrooming".

Head of MediaCom Ireland Ian McGrath said: "This is alarming when you consider the larger online market, where more people are continuing to spend more money, and spend more often."

Separate research from Visa Ireland shows there has been a sharp fall in the rate of increase in consumer spending in the South.

Spending in stores was down 0.4% when compared with the same month last year, but online spending rose 15% in the past year, according to the Visa Consumer Spending Index for October. Visa found that spending was up 4.3% overall in October when account is taken of cash, cheques and electronic payments. This was the weakest rise since May, 2015.

Economist with Goodbody Stockbrokers, Dermot O'Leary, said: "There appears to be a Brexit-chill blowing in the Irish data of late. This is likely to be reflected in a more cautious consumer, but we have also seen a surge in cross-border shopping that will impact consumer spending at the margin."

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