Retailers beat the Budget blues as bargain hunters come out in droves
RETAILERS were counting the cash last night after shoppers came out in force on Saturday and yesterday to make it the busiest weekend of the year.
Tens of thousands braved the cold and started their Christmas shopping in earnest.
Greg Devitt, manager of St Stephen's Green Shopping Centre in Dublin, said Saturday was the busiest of the year.
"People have been out in droves and plenty of shopping is being done. And not just window shopping, judging by the amount of bags people are carrying."
Many of the stores in the centre of the capital have slashed prices ahead of Christmas and Mr Devitt said that he expects next Saturday to be even busier.
"I think people waited for the budget to see what type of impact it has had on their cash. We are certainly up 2pc on last year and we expect that trend to continue."
Business was also good in the high-end Brown Thomas on Grafton Street. Stephen Sealey, managing director, said sales had bounced back over the weekend after a slow start.
"We are happy with business for the first couple of weeks of December. Last week was disappointing (comparatively) bearing in mind we were badly affected by snow last year.
"However, business bounced back strongly on Saturday and with six more shopping days before Christmas, including a Saturday, it is all to play for now."
Justin Young, manager of MahonPoint Shopping Centre in Cork, said this weekend was "undoubtedly the busiest weekend of the year".
He said footfall into the centre on Saturday was up 16pc on the same time last year.
"We have five long trading-hour days left leading up to Christmas and we expect a very strong final week coming up to Christmas."
Many stores in the centre have started their sales and Mr Young said there are great bargains to be had pre-Christmas.
He said shoppers are more cautious than in previous years but business is really picking up.
"People are cautious and it is understandable in the current economic climate. I think once the budget announced itself it allowed people then to get out and start what they wanted to do and next week is set to be very busy."
Shoppers browsing the latest outdoor market in the capital, The Dame District Christmas Market, were treated to a festive music medley by singer songwriter Mundy who wowed the shoppers with old classics and a few Christmas carols.