Rain fails to dilute sales as shoppers splash out
Poor weather has hit retailers in post-Christmas trading but the sector is still performing well, according to representative groups.
Footfall was expected to increase in many towns across the country yesterday, with many independent retailers starting their sales. But the weather may have had a negative impact, Retail Excellence Ireland spokeswoman Lynn Drumgoole said.
"It was a strong start across many sectors, with average transaction value up. However, the weather negatively impacted footfall for some on street retailers on St Stephen's Day," Ms Drumgoole said.
Thomas Burke from Ibec's retail arm, Retail Ireland, said that as of yesterday, the group's members are still on course for a 3.5pc increase in sales on last year, despite the weather and a slight drop in footfall for some in the aftermath of Black Friday, the emergence of which has led to an earlier start to the Christmas trading season.
However, he said the growth would be focused on Dublin and other urban centres, as regional towns and villages weren't performing as well.
"Competition is intense and consumers will benefit from heavy discounting, with prices on par with December 2001," Mr Burke added.
"With 60,000 more people at work this year, disposable income rising and increased consumer optimism about the future, we are now hopeful that this strong performance can continue into 2016."
Retailers slashed prices by as much as 70pc to try to lure even more festive-season shoppers through their doors.
Donald McDonald, managing director at Arnotts department store said thousands of bargain hunters had braved the wet and windy weather to snap up goods in the sales.
"The strong trade before Christmas has continued into the winter sale period, with customers spending right across all the home categories, from kitchenware to furniture," Mr McDonald said.
Graeme McQueen of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce said footfall had been brisk across all sectors.
"A lot of consumers held off and waited until the actual sales - so it's been a busy couple of days for most shop owners," Mr McQueen said.
"In the past, a lot of sales actually began before the Christmas period, but there was a notable change this year.
"Many stores did have partial sales before the festive season, but generally outlets waited until this point in time to put some of their stock on offer."
"This encouraged consumers to go out and look for a good bargain, because generally people are of a mind to spend a bit more this Christmas.
"But while there's more confidence out there, value for money is still very important."