Shops open on Stephen's Day as retailers hope for spending boost
THE shops will open up again on St Stephen's Day, as retailers vie to get their customers back spending as soon as possible.
Large stores in the major cities will reopen straight after Christmas after the success of last year's experiment in opening on December 26.
Clerys, Arnotts, Brown Thomas and Debenhams are among those who will kick off their winter sales at stores around the country on St Stephen's Day. Penneys will open its major Dublin stores on Mary Street, O'Connell Street and Dundrum Town Centre.
Next, which has one of the most popular Christmas sales, said it would not disclose their starting date and post-Christmas opening times until a few days beforehand.
Marks & Spencer is one of the few large chains resisting the trend, and will not reopen until December 27, with a spokesperson saying: "We prefer to give our staff a break."
Dublin City Centre Business Association said that most large stores would be open, with anchor tenants in shopping centres often paving the way and smaller shops then deciding on a case-by-case basis if they thought it was worthwhile.
"There's been a lot of panic between the sales figures and the snow, so it's not surprising that places will open, especially when you see savings are up 8pc this year, so there is money out there to be spent," said the association's chief executive Tom Coffey.
Many large retailers and shopping centres "are in NAMA or heading that way", or else are controlled from the UK, so the accountants were decreeing when they needed to open, Mr Coffey said.
Mandate trade union, which represents shopworkers, said that last year's St Stephen's Day opening had been portrayed as exceptional because of the collapse of retail sales, but now it appeared to be the norm even though it fell on a Sunday this year.
"There's a huge amount of UK employers who see St Stephen's Day as big business, and I can't see that going back even if there is a recovery," said Mandate deputy general secretary Linda Tanham.
Mandate had written to large retailers asking them to confirm that the arrangement would be voluntary and staff would not be forced to work if they didn't want to.
However, Ms Tanham queried the wisdom of opening again so quickly, noting it simply spread spending over a longer period rather than increasing it.
"If you're someone who has €500 worth of vouchers to spend, sure you might spend it all on Stephen's Day but then you're not going to spend it on the other days, it does not generate any revenue," she said.
IBEC's Retail Ireland division said that St Stephen's Day opening was happening because, as well as times being tough for retailers, there was a public appetite for it.
"The public demand is there for it, it's a leisure activity for a lot of people and enough people went out to shop last year to make it worth their while for retailers to open," said director Torlach Denihan.