RETAILERS in Tralee have reported a positive start to the New Year with most traders in the county capital recording better than expected pre and post Christmas sales.
Traders in both Tralee town centre and at Manor West Retail Park said that despite slow sales in November and early December, blamed by most on consumers fears about the budget, the weeks immediately leading into the holidays had seen a marked and noticable increase in sales compared with recent years.
As well as a healthy pre-Christmas for most businesses traders also reported a strong post- Christmas with shoppers turning out for the post holiday sales in larger numbers than have been seen for several years.
Much of this boost in business, especially in the town centre, has been credited to the success of the Spraoi Tralee promotional programme, which was designed by Tralee Chamber Alliance and provided shoppers with free parking, generous voucher booklets and a range of festive entertainment.
Crucially traders in both the town centre and at Manor West said much of this year's Christmas spend had been locally based with Tralee residents opting to spend their hard earned cash in their home town rather than travelling to other shopping destinations like Limerick and Cork in such large numbers as in previous years. Tralee Chamber Alliance Board Member John Walsh of Walsh Bros Shoes in Tralee said Christmas 2012 had been positive for most businesses in the town.
"Overall it has been a good Christmas. It hasn't been a bonanza but any improvement on last year's performance is welcome," he said.
"Some shops did do better than others.
"The jewellers I've spoken are very pleased and things like tablets and computers were very popular so it was a very good Christmas for shops selling more techie items," said John Walsh.
"This year people seemed to make a big effort to shop locally. In fairness to them most shoppers wanted to support local business and the local economy," he said.
"We'll all have to keep our fingers crossed for the year ahead. Most businesses are optimistic that in 2013 trade will hold its own compared with 2012 or improve slightly," said Mr Walsh.
Manor West Retail Park Manager Derek Rusk also reported a positive holiday season at the park where he said footfall was at it's busiest for four to five years.
On a number of occasions over the holidays management at the centre opened overflow car parks to meet demand with up to 1,500 cars at the centre at some times.
"The sales have been very strong. People obviously put money aside for the sales and there is exceptional value to be seen," he said.
"The retailers at Manor West Retail Park have been very positive and business is up significantly on last year although there is a bit of fear about what the new year will bring."
In short, Tralee ended the year well and has hopes for a better 2013.