Black Friday sales boost for beleaguered Belfast traders
Tenacious bargain hunters hit Belfast's Black Friday sales yesterday as the city centre enjoyed its biggest shopping day in months.
In the wake of the Primark fire in August, shoppers have deserted the key retail area around its cordoned-off Bank Buildings premises.
Yesterday it was a different story as the streets around City Hall were packed with people on the hunt for a bargain.
Retail NI CEO Glyn Roberts acknowledged that while Black Friday is no longer the major shopping event it once was, the day was a welcome boost to the city's traders.
He said: "With people doing their Christmas shopping much earlier, Black Friday is now less of a big date in the retail calendar than it used to be and we will still see quite a few sales over the coming weeks.
"The Black Friday trade in Belfast this year appeared to be fairly steady and the city centre was bustling.
"It certainly seemed to be the busiest shopping day that we have seen since the Primark fire.
"Footfall is definitely up today and it shows that Belfast is marching on."
The Belfast Telegraph spoke to some eager buyers at lunchtime.
On William Street South, Rosemarie Harbinson, from Twinbrook, was shopping with her daughter Caitlin Seaton, who was taking advantage of the 'buy three, get three free' offer on make-up at KIKO Milano.
Rosemarie said: "I had an idea of what I wanted and so far the shopping is going well. I've managed to get some bargains that were on the list along with a few more."
With the weak pound attracting more shoppers from the Republic, there was a notable increase in people crossing the border into Northern Ireland.
Mother and daughter Ann and Katie Blake were shopping on Castle Lane having travelled five hours from Kilrush in Co Clare.
Ann said: "The exchange rate is in our favour so we're getting great value for money, but the deals don't seem to be as good as in previous years.
"A lot of places had already started their sales before today."
Ticking a few items off the Christmas list and saving around £100 on clothing, was Patrick McManus, from Kilkeel. He said: "The offers are good and I have saved 30% in All Saints so I'm happy.
"I always come into the city on Black Friday to get a good saving and buy my clothes for the year so it's definitely a worthwhile day out."
Returning to the city centre for the second year in a row to snap up some Black Friday bargains were friends Jennifer Scott and Rosemary Gilchrist, from Belfast.
Jennifer told the Belfast Telegraph: "It has become a tradition now to book the day off and come into town.
"I got my daughter a coat in Stradivarius and there was 20% off so I was happy."