Ready? Steady? Go! Bargains to be had as shops recoup losses
Shoppers set to blow €130m today – but retailers still reeling from Brexit
BARGAIN hunters will benefit from massive January sales discounts as shops seek to claw back lost trade from Brexit and the growth of internet sales.
Industry experts say that a drop in pre-Christmas sales, combined with the uncertainty of the UK leaving the EU, will give rise to dramatic price drops as businesses look to recoup some of their losses.
It is expected that an impressive €130m will be spent in Irish shops across the nation today, which is on par with last year, though experts had been hoping for an increase of around 5pc.
However, it is the shoppers who should expect to get a lot more bang for their buck, with the coffers of the retailers expected to feel the pain.
Graeme McQueen, of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, told the Irish Independent that businesses have been holding back on going all out with their sales until after Christmas Day.
But they will blink today in order to move out stock and plan for the next year as the effects of Brexit begin to kick in.
This will mean a significant margin loss to retail businesses.
"The one thing I've noticed is that a lot of stores have kept a lot of stuff back for the sales.
"So if you go into a typical shop on Grafton Street before Christmas you'll see that about 20pc of the stuff in the shop is on sale, with the rest at normal price," Mr McQueen said.
"That's just them trying to maximise value for Christmas shopping and then for the sales.
"I think there will be good sales, because the shops will be looking to clear stock."
Mr McQueen said business owners are eager to move stock on swiftly because of the impact of Brexit and that most shops would have bought all of their stuff for this time of year before the Brexit vote happened.
And post-Brexit planning has already begun.
"It's going to take a whole year for the whole Brexit thing to wash through the system, so they bought their clothes at a certain price - a lot would have been in sterling - so they're selling their goods at a reduced price and they're losing money on it, because they paid so much for it," he said.
"They're getting less back than what they paid.
"They're buying now for six or seven months time - in a different environment, so I think they want to get rid of the stock, so that should make for good sales.
"It's well worth consumers making the trip into town or into the shops in between Christmas and the new year because there will be good deals."
Consumer experts say that sales across clothing, electronics and fashion have dropped significantly on 2015.
This is due to both Brexit and the Black Friday-Cyber Monday phenomenon that gathered legs this year. However, with this in mind, retailers are expected to drop their prices even further in order to recoup the heavy losses made so far in December.
The anticipated bargain hunting over the coming days will see a "late surge" that will rescue the market and bring it on par with last year, according to Retail Excellence Ireland (REI).
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Lynn Drumgoole of REI said a particular focus will be on the winter clothing the stores have so far failed to get off the racks because of mild conditions this winter.
"Any of the fashion stores that hold a winter stock, the weather is obviously having an impact on that so there's nobody shifting heavy coats and jumpers," Ms Drumgoole said.
Despite the good weather giving rise to more people hitting the cities and towns, it has not given the retail industry the lift it had expected.
"This time last year, shopping centres had seen a footfall increase because there was a lot of inclement weather - a lot of flooding," Ms Drumgoole said.
"Whereas this year urban centre footfall is up, but it hasn't necessarily translated into sales at this stage."
This trend was also picked up on by Dublin Town chief, Richard Guiney.
"It's been an interesting Christmas," Mr Guiney said. "Footfall has been well up, up by 7-8pc which is a very large increase, but the feedback we've had is that people were holding on to their cash, they were being judicious in their spending.
"I think with the footfall, people are coming in and just enjoying the city."
Mr Guiney said people are not parting with their money as freely as they feel less secure about how the markets will go due to the seismic political shifts over the past six months - owing to Brexit and Donald Trump being the US president-elect.
"I would expect the sales will be quite enticing this year," he said. "There's been an impact on consumer confidence, people have taken a bit of a knock, they're not as certain about 2017 as they were about 2016. When you get uncertainty, people become a little more cautious about their overall spending."
The big Brown Thomas and BT2 winter sale starts in stores nationwide today, with shops opening at 9am.