Belfast Telegraph

Drop off in cross-border shopping helps lift Republic’s retail trade

By Clare Weir

An Irish retailers organisation has said that cross-border shopping has declined in the lead-up to Christmas

Latest figures from the Central Statistics Office’s quarterly national household survey for the second quarter of 2010 show that total household expenditure of people from the Republic shopping in Northern Ireland decreased to €418m (£355m) from €435m (£370m) in the same period last year.

Chief executive of Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) David Fitzsimons said that although the fall in spend is not statistically significant, the figures should still be taken as a very positive sign for the retail industry in the Republic.

“Consumers are much more aware of the fact that the price differential between the Republic and the north is negligible and therefore makes the associated effort and travel costs not worthwhile,” he said

“According to figures from the Department of Finance, last Christmas £495m was spent in Northern Ireland by shoppers from the Republic.

“When we consider that 15% of retailer turnover is invested in salaries, this lost income translates into 5,000 lost jobs.

“It is therefore critical that Irish shoppers are encouraged to shop local this Christmas by making them aware of the great value that exists in this market.

“REI is anticipating that cross-border spend will continue to decrease quarter-on-quarter, particularly in light of the increased VAT rate due to come into effect next January in the UK, which will hopefully translate into year-on-year growth early in the new year.”

However, there are fears that the Republic’s Budget on December 7, with cuts of €6bn (£5.1bn) to be made from public spending, will drive southern shoppers back to places like The Quays shopping centre in Newry which, along with the city’s Buttercrane Centre, has been a major beneficiary of cross-border trade

Centre manager Cathal Austin said The Quays is still very optimistic for a buoyant Christmas.

Belfast Telegraph