Friday 9 December 2016

Weekend exodus to the North is on the rise since Brexit vote

Published 04/11/2016 | 02:30

Many shoppers are making the trip north in the run-up to Christmas (Stock picture)
Many shoppers are making the trip north in the run-up to Christmas (Stock picture)

Traffic heading over the Border has soared by up to 30pc on Saturday mornings since the Brexit vote.

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New research shows a link between the value of Sterling and traffic heading North.

The study shows the number of people from the Republic travelling to Northern Ireland jumped in the wake of the Brexit vote, with Saturdays and Sundays seeing the largest year-on-year increases.

The report, by Goodbody Stockbrokers analysing traffic flows, gives the first detailed take on how the cheaper pound has boosted cross-border shopping. It found that in the 12 months up to the Brexit referendum vote on June 23, cross-border traffic flows were up 6pc year-on-year.

But in the post-Brexit vote period since August, traffic volumes have jumped 9pc when compared with the same period last year.

A closer look at the data shows the biggest year-on-year increases are seen at the weekends.

The largest annual increase is on Saturday mornings, between 10am and 11am, with traffic surging 29pc year-on-year, compared with just 3pc before the vote.

The next largest increase is between 6pm and 7pm on a Sunday, possibly reflecting the fact shoppers are returning back across the Border to the Republic.

"Our analysis suggests that the Brexit-induced Sterling collapse is already having an impact on shopping patterns in Ireland," said Goodbody chief economist Dermot O'Leary.

"Analysis of traffic flows across the Border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland suggests that there has been a notable increase in volumes in the period after Brexit.

"The benefits to Northern Ireland may be the Republic's loss; while the impact on consumer spending overall will be relatively modest, the economic impact in the Border counties will be larger."

Surged

Sterling surged to a four-week high yesterday after England's High Court ruled that the government needed parliamentary approval to trigger Brexit and the Bank of England scrapped plans to cut interest rates.

The pound weakened to less than 90p to the euro at the start of October, causing consternation for Irish exporters and retailers close to the Border.

Against the euro, Sterling rose by 1.9pc to hit a four-week high of 88.595 pence.

But Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Newry Junior Chamber yesterday that shoppers from this side of the Border had been taking advantage of the dramatic plunge in the value of Sterling since the June 23 vote.

He said that was likely to continue as Christmas grows near.

"This is a phenomenon that we have seen before, and obviously that you will see probably increase in the run-up to Christmas," Mr Kenny said.

"I'm conscious, that while this is good news for retailers here in Newry, on the other side of the Border, the fluctuation in Sterling provides a real challenge."

Mr Kenny later travelled to Stormont where he was due to meet the leaders of the parties in the North, with the exception of the Democratic Unionist Party, who were said to be unable to attend yesterday.

But Mr Kenny said that he would be meeting DUP leader Arlene Foster in Dublin on November 15.

Dublin in 'eye of Brexit storm'

Dublin is in the "eye of the storm" following the Brexit referendum, broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby has said.

The respected journalist will bring BBC World Questions to Dublin Castle next Wednesday, tackling the big issues in Ireland and Europe.

"Dublin is in the eye of the storm," he said.

"The Republic is in a unique position as a member of the EU, which also has a very close relationship and border with the UK."

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald, former Fianna Fáil minister Conor Lenihan and NUI Maynooth lecturer Dr JoAnne Mancini will be on the panel.

Tickets are available on the British Council’s website, and it will be broadcast on BBC World Service on November 12 at 8pm.

Irish Independent

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