Monday 23 September 2019

Boom-time shopping trips to New York are back - with 20pc rise in bookings for Christmas 2014

Manhattan shopping, new cars and a home improvement frenzy − the Celtic Phoenix is rising and spreading its wings

John Fitzpatrick of the 4-star Fitzpatrick Manhattan and Fitzpatrick Grand Central hotels says there has already been a 20pc increase in bookings for Christmas 2014.
John Fitzpatrick of the 4-star Fitzpatrick Manhattan and Fitzpatrick Grand Central hotels says there has already been a 20pc increase in bookings for Christmas 2014.
Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

The shopping trip to New York, perhaps the ultimate expression of boom time hedonism, is back.

Bookings for pre-Christmas retail therapy in Manhattan have increased massively on last year, according to one of New York's best-known hoteliers.

John Fitzpatrick of the 4-star Fitzpatrick Manhattan and Fitzpatrick Grand Central hotels says there has already been a 20pc increase in bookings for Christmas 2014.

"And it is still very early. As a nation we tend to book late. Irish guests make up to 35pc of our clientele so it is a very heartening boost. Last Christmas was also 15pc up on the previous year so the level of advance bookings for the pre-Christmas period this year is a very strong vote of confidence," he added.

Mr Fitzpatrick said that their analysis also shows a significant increase in corporate bookings.

"The Irish are doing business in New York again so overall our Irish business is up about 25pc this year," he said.

And in a further potent symbol of returning confidence, a staggering 18,776 new cars were driven out of Irish showrooms in July, the highest ever monthly total, according to the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI)

Even the sport of kings has recovered lost lustre with sales of yearling thoroughbreds booming.

The mini-property boom in Dublin, with prices rising by some 22pc in the calendar year, has also percolated to the general retail sector.

In the last year sales of new furniture and lighting rose by an astonishing 20pc - albeit from a low base.

Electrical goods including big ticket white goods like fridges, washing machines and TVs have also benefited from the spending spree. Sales are up 12pc in the last year.

The overall retail figures released by the Central Statistics Office show that the volume of retail sales has risen by 6.8pc on an annual basis and the value of those sales has increased by 5.3pc.

Blaine Callard, chief executive of Harvey Norman Ireland, is optimistic.

"We are seeing clear signs that consumers are out looking to making bigger purchases. Sales in categories like sofas, beds, and large appliances are showing healthy growth. The last few years we saw a lot of purchasing to replace appliances that had broken down, but increasingly people seem to be lifestyle or renovation-driven shopping."

An analysis of consumer trends by Harvey Norman found that shoppers are now arriving looking for more than one item, suggesting they are upgrading a whole room or all appliances in a kitchen.

"Moving house is often the trigger to visit our stores, so the increase in property activity is great for business. It is important, however, to keep this in perspective as most of these categories were decimated after 2009 - with some segments down as much as 60pc," Mr Callard told the Sunday Independent.

He added: "Growth is welcome, but we are still a long way off a frenzy or a boom. Let's call it healthy early signs of a consumer recovery."

Last week, more than €38m was spent in Goffs in Co Kildare in just two days of frenetic bidding on yearling colts and fillies.

That was an 11pc increase in overall turnover from last year, while the average price of €109,234 was also up by 8pc on 2013.

Two regally bred horses made over €1m each. A son of top sire Galileo was snapped up by Coolmore for €1.5m while on Wednesday a daughter of Sea the Stars was knocked down for €1.1m in a buoyant disposal of top quality bloodstock.

Sunday Independent

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