Sunday 25 March 2018

Handbags to Porsches - For some free-spending consumers, it is as if the recession never happened

Mulberry handbag
Mulberry handbag
Pandora bracelet
Porsche car
Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

For some free-spending consumers in the shopping nirvanas like Dundrum Town Centre and Grafton Street, it is as if the recession never happened. They are splashing the cash like Celtic Tiger spendthrifts, high on Bollinger champagne.

Jewellery and watches

Retail Excellence Ireland reports a surge in jewellery sales in shops such as Weirs.

Branded gems like Thomas Sabo and Pandora are being snapped up with a growth in sales this year of over 10pc. The affluent type who likes to flash a luxury branded watch no longer looks out of place in Dublin 4 and other posh enclaves.

Sales of the most coveted brands have increased this year. For the man who wants to summon up the ghosts of the glorious Bertie Ahern era with his timepiece, Weirs on Grafton Street is selling a Gents Rolex Daytona watch with crocodile leather strap for €19,250.

Handbags at noon

Brown Thomas recently announced that it is selling more luxury handbags than it did during the boom. Money seems to be no object for those hunting for a suitably ostentatious sack in which to contain their possessions. They would think nothing of spending €2,600 on a Mulberry Bayswater embossed calf hair bag.

Flash cars roar off forecourts

It's time to ditch the modest hatchback, as the flash motor is well and truly back in vogue.

Sales of Porsches are recovering well. During the recession, things got so bad that only 11 of the cars sold, and the only dealer in the luxury marque had to shut. Last year, 48 Porsches roared off the forecourt.

Sales of the ultimate Celtic Tiger motor, the BMW, are also roaring back from a recession trough of 1,400 per year to over 4,000 last year.

Of course, if you want to keep your neighbours shaken and stirred in true James Bond style, you have to have an Aston Martin. Last month, Aston Martin dealer Charles Hurst opened a new €1.2m showroom in Belfast as it beefed up sales efforts on the back of a recovering Irish economy.

Sunshine getaways

Foreign holidays are again soaring in popularity, and the well-heeled sunseeker hopes to get away at least three times a year. Passenger traffic was up 15pc through Dublin Airport over the summer.

Spain remains Ireland's favourite holiday destination, followed by Portugal and Italy, a survey of Irish travel agents recently showed. There were 1.3 million trips to Spain by Irish holidaymakers last year, and this figure is expected to be topped this year. According to the Irish Travel Agents Association, holidaymakers have larger budgets, and are demanding higher quality accommodation.

Dandy hipster boom

A new generation of metrosexual dandy hipsters seems to be behind a surge in clothing sales for men. Sales of men's brands rocketed by 14pc in the second quarter of this year, while ladies' fashions increased by a more modest 6pc.

Overall fashion sales have increased by around 10pc during the year, according to Retail Excellence Ireland.

Grand designs

With rocketing prices, homes may be unaffordable, but consumers still have grand designs when it comes to their own homes. Furniture and flooring sales were up almost 12pc. Designer shrubs are sprouting everywhere and don't be surprised if your neighbour puts in new decking. Sales at garden centres grew by 9pc in the second quarter.

Coffee froth

There is no greater sign of economic froth than sales of takeaway coffees. Hot beverage sales, which are considered one of the ultimate financial barometers as workers often buy coffees on the go, have increased by over 7pc. So, eventually there may be more Starbucks cafés than pubs.

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