Ulster's shoppers on lookout for bargain
Shoppers hoping to bag a couple of post-Christmas bargains were today hitting the shops across Northern Ireland.
Shops such as Currys and Debenhams opened early this morning and were slashing as much as 70% off some items, while the annual sale at Next was due to begin at 4am tomorrow at the Donegal Place and Boucher Road stores, and at 5am at all their other stores throughout the province.
And shoppers not able to make it to the stores of their choice or hoping to avoid the massive queues associated with the January sales will also be able to grab a bargain or two from the internet, where most major stores are offering cut price goods for sale.
It is hoped by retailers that Ulster people will splash the cash in the coming days after an apparently lacklustre performance before Christmas.
According to retail market monitors Footfall, the number of High Street visits made by Christmas Eve shoppers fell by more than 40% compared to the same day last year.
Significantly fewer people ventured out to buy last minute presents - down 43%, but the organisation stressed this compared a restricted Sunday trading day to last year when Christmas Eve fell on a Saturday.
Natasha Burton, analyst at FootFall, said the January sales followed some heavy pre-Christmas discounting on the high street.
"It is a very important time for the retailers, but the key thing will be how they make these sales stand out to attract people in," she said.
Kevin Hawkins, director of the British Retail Consortium, said the sales were an important way of clearing excess winter stock and increasing footfall into stores.
"There are always some good bargains to be had. It is just whether you have got the patience and the sheer grit to go hunting," he said.
Woolworths marketing director Stephen Robertson said extra staff had been drafted in to cope with the sales period.
He said: "Our stores are expecting a huge rush on Boxing Day and one of the busiest January sales ever as shoppers hunt down a post-Christmas bargain."