Sunday 23 October 2016

Shoppers race for bargains before dawn

Claire Mc Cormack

Published 27/12/2015 | 02:30

Thousands of bargain-hunters braved high winds and weather warnings to be first in line for a once-off deal during yesterday's St Stephen's Day sales in the capital.

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After rising before dawn, shoppers from across the country and international visitors from both the Middle and Far East were en route to stores on Grafton Street and Henry Street before 6am.

From couture and diamonds to cosmetics and electrical goods, retailers slashed prices in the hope of continuing their busiest festive period since the recession hit in 2008.

Shoppers have splurged a staggering €129m every day this month - or €5m every hour - with retailers anticipating an estimated 3.5pc hike on last year's sales.

Browsing through designer handbags and purses at the Arnotts sale, bride-to-be Fiona Barnwell was confident that she would find the perfect clutch for her big day.

"The wedding is tomorrow but I'm not panicking, there are lots of beautiful satin and sparkling Ted Baker clutches. I just want to make sure I pick the right one," said the Dublin native who flew in from Perth, Australia for her nuptials.

Early morming bargain hunters rush in at opening time at the Arnotts sale. Photo: Tony Gavin
Early morming bargain hunters rush in at opening time at the Arnotts sale. Photo: Tony Gavin

"I always come home for the sales, I love grabbing a bargain. It's already getting busy but it's just a matter of staying calm and focused on what you want," she said.

Shopper Aileen Stephens, from Mullingar, Co Westmeath, decided to venture out to the St Stephen's Day sales for the first time.

"I usually hate the sales but they seemed too good to resist this year. I'm on the look out for a fabulous dress to wear to the Leopardstown races," she said.

Last night, Donald McDonald, Arnotts managing director, said trading on Saturday "exceeded expectations".

"From early morning, our menswear, ladies' accessories and technology departments saw strong demand.

"Beats by Dre and Sennheiser headphones are proving as popular after Christmas as they did before Christmas.

"Overall, sales are significantly ahead of last year, both in-store and online."

Across the road in Debenhams, the Banda family were running a tight-knit, efficient operation to get the best out of the sales.

"We're like the shopping ninjas, we take this day very seriously, we're organised and enthusiastic. It's a family tradition at this stage" said Alma Banda from north Dublin.

"Mam waits in line and I go around picking out what we want. My brother is by the door to take bags to the car," she adds.

Experts estimate that shoppers will spend in the region of €300m over the coming days - and that sales will surpass the €1bn mark by the New Year.

Retail Ireland director Thomas Burke said: "We're expecting about €4bn to be spent in the month of December as a whole".

Although most sectors are trading exceptionally well in the capital, the experts also warn of a "two-tier" recovery in spending nationwide.

However, no amount of wind or rain could keep Oisin Fay away from designer shoes in Brown Thomas yesterday.

"My heart set on a pair of Valentino's, I wasn't leaving without them.

"They were reduced from €540 to €370. I'm absolutely delighted," he said.

Sunday Independent

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