Business Irish

Sunday 21 July 2019

Shoppers splurged €458m on trips North

Global market: Retail expert David Fitzsimons expects record business. Photo: David Conachy
Global market: Retail expert David Fitzsimons expects record business. Photo: David Conachy
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Shoppers from the Republic splashed out €458m shopping in Northern Ireland in a year, with those living close to the Border taking swift advantage of a weak pound that has been battered by Brexit.

They splurged on alcohol, cosmetics, food and groceries, medicines, clothes, footwear and sports goods, as well as fuel, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The CSO figures show that of the €458m spent by border-hoppers in the 12 months to the end of March this year, a whopping €286.5m was spent in Northern Ireland by those living in the Border region.

The figures don't include online spending or vehicle purchases.

Food and groceries were bought by almost 66pc of shoppers heading North, while nearly 55pc bought clothes, footwear and sports goods, and 40pc bought alcohol.

Shoppers from Dublin forked out €89.5m shopping in Northern Ireland, while households from the mid-east spent €24.1m, said the CSO.

The CSO said households in the region made an average of 16 shopping trips to Northern Ireland in the year.

It added that 44pc of households took shopping trips to the North, compared to 14pc of all households in the Republic.

The average spend by households on each of their shopping trips to the North was €275, according to the CSO, with households from the Midlands spending the most, at an average of €363 per trip.

Thomas Burke, the director of Retail Ireland, an industry group that is part of business lobby group Ibec, said the scale of the spending in the North was down to the weakness of the pound against the euro.

"There has been a fairly significant uptick in terms of the level of cross-border and online transactions with UK-based retailers in recent months and it all stems from the devaluation of sterling," he said.

"That's the single biggest driving force."

Richard Guiney, the chief executive of retail business group Dublin Town, said that given the fall in the value of sterling he would have expected shoppers from the capital to have spent even more in the North.

David Fitzsimons, the group chief executive of Retail Excellence Ireland, said that the coming weekend would be hugely important for retailers and that he expected it to be the busiest weekend on record.

He pointed out the economy was close to full-employment and many people would be getting paycheques this week.

Mr Fitzsimons also pointed out that retailers were now competing on a global stage.

"There are lots of southern-reg cars in the North today, but the big picture is global and it's online," he said.

Meanwhile research group Kantar Worldpanel predicted this week that Irish households will spend a record €1bn on Christmas grocery shopping.

Another firm, iReach Insights, forecast yesterday that Irish people will spend an average of €606 each this Christmas.

Irish Independent

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