Bargains galore in Belfast Boxing Day sales but some find better deals online
Savvy shoppers keen to pick up a bargain or two were out in force for the Boxing Day sales in Belfast city centre.
Retailers were hoping for a sales boost to ease the problems they had faced since the Primark fire. And although many high-street names brought forward their sales before Christmas, the lure of further cuts to prices ensured there was a steady throng of bargain-hunters yesterday.
Jenni Barkley (31) from south Belfast had a very early start, bringing along her mum Lorna, daughters Sophie (7) and Isla (3) and nine-year-old niece Demi.
"The Boxing Day sale is something I do every year," she said.
"At 6am I was at Boucher Retail Park for the Next sale. Next, Lush, New Look and River Island are the stores that I go for - along with Boots."
Her best bargain was a Mark Hill hair-dryer set complete with hair-styling products on sale at Boots, slashed from £35 to £17.
"I also picked up a DKNY Stories perfume - I don't think it was as much as 50% off, though - and got some Lush bath bombs."
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Estimating she had spent £300 so far, Jenni said the city appeared to be quieter than in past years.
"The crowds haven't been as bad as last year," she said.
Also up at the crack of dawn were Co Antrim mother and daughter Betty Irons (75) and Gillian Neilly (48).
The pair were on the road from Ballymena at 6.15am to hit the shops.
"I picked up some Guess jeans and a T-shirt from River Island," said Gillian.
"I would say that my best bargain would be perfume I picked up from Boots: J'adore by Dior which was £75 down to £50."
But they felt that the standard of this year's sales failed to live up to expectations.
"M&S is usually good for tops and jeans but this year it hasn't been at all. TK Maxx was good, and Boots," said Betty.
"Next has been disappointing. A lot of the items were still full price."
Next's offerings proved to be a hit with Larne shopper Ken Leneghan. He picked up a three-piece suit with 50% off.
"It was originally £160. I headed to New Look but I was probably a bit late, it was pretty much empty for men's," he said.
Nearby was Carrickfergus man Lalit Ramani (37) who was on a solo shopping trip to pick up gifts in Next, Boots and Marks & Spencer.
"I've been in from 10.30am. It's been a good day, I've been enjoying the shopping," said the restaurant manager.
"I've picked up some gifts. I got a great Ted Baker cosmetics set from Boots which was priced at £40 and was reduced to £20."
Boots was also top of the list for student Niamh Quinn who was back in Belfast from Liverpool for the festive period.
"I picked up gift sets which were all half-price: Ted Baker, Missguided and Jack Wills," she said.
"I picked up some formal clothes from Next and some of the Lipsy range which were half-price."
Further along Royal Avenue was 62-year-old Tommy Dunlop (left), from Peter's Hill in Belfast.
"I'm really happy - I had my eye on a coat at River Island which was £90 reduced to £40 and I'm delighted with that. I'm heading to Debenhams next to see if another coat I've wanted is also on sale."
He added: "I've been in the town from 11am and found that it's been good this year."
North Belfast woman Linda McKee - who had popped in to mainly exchange clothes for different sizes - disagreed.
"It's a lot quieter in general. It's pretty low-key," said the 25-year-old.
Keen to inject the latest fashion styles into their wardrobes were sisters Katie (22) and Emma Dougan (20).
The pair from east Belfast made visits to Urban Outfitters, Top Shop and Pull & Bear - where Katie said she made her biggest savings. "Everything I got there was under £10. I picked up a new bag, jeans and a shirt which were originally all £20, £25 each."
The sales were a bit of a damp squib for Emma, however, who said that she had less luck than her sibling.
"I popped into Dr Martens to buy footwear but what I was after wasn't in the sale," she explained.
The pair were ready to call it quits by early afternoon.
"It's been quite dead. We've actually just come from Costa were we sat and did some shopping online," revealed Katie.
"Missguided had a great sale and then extra if you're a student.
"Clothes website I Saw It First had a 70% off sale which had some great bargains."
Not everyone made the journey into the city centre specifically for the sales.
Friends Saffron McCann (19) and Natasha McAlister (18) were out spending their Christmas money getting ready for their Boxing Day night out.
"I picked up a black jumper in Primark for £13 when Topshop had a similar one on sale for £30.
"I also got the essentials like socks and underwear."
Natasha said she had managed to get her entire outfit sorted in the shopping trip.
"I got some earrings in New Look, shorts from H&M and a skirt and leggings from Primark."