Belfast Telegraph

Let's hope tills jingle all the way

By Donald C McFetridge

Tomorrow, November 29, is 'Black Friday' – the day after Thanksgiving, when traditionally Christmas shopping starts in earnest on both sides of the Atlantic.

Here in Northern Ireland, retailers have been looking forward expectantly to this important trading period in the hope that this year will compensate for poor trading conditions in 2012.

However, many retailers are worried that – in light of the partially exploded bomb in Belfast and the commemorative parade planned for Saturday – trade could be badly disrupted.

In the meantime, online retailers, like Amazon, have been presenting surfing shoppers with a countdown to Black Friday, with offers, discounts and promotions.

And it's not just local consumers who are worried about hitting the High Street. Visitors from the United States are being advised to exercise caution.

Christmas is the time of year when retailers hope to make up for challenging trading conditions; it is essential that consumers are not discouraged from our town and city centres.

Having said that, well-placed industry sources tell me that there has been a perceptible upturn in trade in the North West, with couriers experiencing a boom in home deliveries and some local toy shops already running low on Christmas stock.

Hopefully, when we get past Black Friday and Saturday, trading conditions will improve and shoppers will come out in force to spend their hard-earned cash.

After all, many salaries will be in the bank this weekend and traders are keen to see satisfied customers crossing the thresholds of their retail premises and leaving with smiles on their faces (and bulging bags in their hands).

With Mega Monday just around the corner, and in spite of the volatile political environment, we're all praying that both retailers and consumers will experience a positive and enjoyable Christmas trading period and that those who dream of a White Christmas will get that, too.

Let's hope that Black Friday tomorrow will not be so-called for all the wrong reasons.

Belfast Telegraph

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