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Number of southern shoppers falls by 35%

Cross-border shopping has plummeted in popularity with over a third of shoppers from the Republic who used to travel to Northern Ireland quitting our aisles.

A new survey shows 35% of southern cross-border shoppers have not travelled north to stock up this year as the price gap between Northern Ireland and the Republic narrows.

And 45% said that less favourable exchange rates this year would dissuade them from shopping in Northern Ireland.

The survey of 500 consumers was carried out by Empathy Research and published in Retail Intelligence online newsletter.

It came as new inflation figures out yesterday showed UK prices were still rising at 3.1% a year despite repeated attempts to curb inflation, whereas the Republic has had the biggest price falls in the EU in the last year, averaging -2.4%.

General reductions in food prices as well as VAT changes and excise cuts in the Republic have also narrowed the price gap, and the UK VAT rate is set to be hiked further next January.

However the euro's steep fall against sterling — with €1 now worth just 82p compared to 92p last year — is probably the main factor, as it has meant a significant reduction in what southern shoppers can get for their money.

Southern-registered cars still accounted for 45% of all those seen in car parks in the main cross-border destinations of Newry, Enniskillen, Strabane and Banbridge in the latest survey carried out last month by Intertrade Ireland, an all-Ireland trade promotion body.

That is down from 55% at the start of the year, and down from a peak of around two thirds at the height of the cross-border shopping phenomenon in |late 2008-early 2009, said Intertrade Director of Research Eoin |Magennis.

Belfast Telegraph