Bargains and budgets key for sales shoppers keep lid on their sales spending
Retailers reported a healthy trade for the St Stephen's Day sales but shoppers were targeting the best buys and restricting their spend.
A burst of shoppers hit the streets for early morning bargains at high-end stores such as Brown Thomas on Dublin's Grafton Street and its sister store on St Patrick's Street in Cork.
But rather than a flood of shoppers throughout yesterday it seemed more a steady stream of families, friends and young consumers, carefully planning their investments.
Thomas Burke, director of Retail Ireland at Ibec, said: "The initial indications are that it was busy on St Stephen's morning.
"And there are decent shopper numbers round the major centres across the country. Certainly there was a good vibe in Dublin and we're hopeful for three good days of trade required to bring us up to the necessary level."
Retail Ireland said the next 72 hours would reveal if Christmas 2018 would meet expectations - a rise of 3pc in consumer spending - to boost sales to more than €150m this month.
"The most popular items are beauty and homeware and there are deep discounts on some of these items and electrical products," Mr Burke said.
Grafton Street and Henry Street, the main shopping thoroughfares in Dublin, were busy yesterday but many shoppers were window-shopping and not laden with bags.
"The consumer is a changed beast," Mr Burke admitted. "Shoppers have changed even to what they were five years ago. They do forensic research on bargains before they go out to the sales and decide if they'll buy online or in-store and they'll only go for the best buys. There's a lot less of impulsive sales shopping."
Mother Jo Boulton from Clontarf, Dublin, took her two daughters, Alisha and Shannon, out to peruse the sales at Brown Thomas and picked up some very early festive bargains for Christmas 2019.
She said: "I bought Christmas decorations and scented candles and everything was half-price. We got a wreath for €18 that would have been €36 and the candles were €12 but should have been €24.
"We didn't have a plan, we just wanted to have a look but there are some really good bargains, up to 70pc off. For us, it's mostly to get out of the house on Stephen's Day."
Camila Machado Pereira and friend Maria Mestre, both 30, from Pearse Street, Dublin, picked up gifts in Monsoon for friends and family and clothing for half-price in Zara.
"I spent €130 and saved 50pc," Ms Pereira said.
"I bought a jumper, jeans and a hat I'm already wearing," Ms Mestre added.
Viomea Filva, who works in hospitality in Dublin, said: "I never spend more than I intend to and I never buy more than what I need," after picking up a half-price bra for just €17 in Victoria's Secret on Grafton Street.
"Put the credit card away in the bag and just spend what you need is my advice to anyone in the sales, otherwise you could leave clothes in the wardrobe forever and waste your hard-earned money."
Joan Carney, from Golden Lane, Dublin, was on the hunt for an outfit for her nephew's wedding on New Year's Eve.
"I'm looking for something for my sister too," she said. "I don't ever buy myself anything for Christmas, I buy for myself in the sales and for my nephews and nieces. I've just been in Monsoon and 50pc isn't bad but I'm looking for more off to be honest.
"The city isn't as busy as I'd expected today. I think people must have spent too much at Christmas and are taking it easy now."
But there was the occasional impulse shopper still hitting Grafton Street. Megan Patchell (17), from Tallaght, Dublin, went out shopping with no real plan of what she was going to buy but left the city with armfuls of bargains.
"I have bought clothes and runners and most of it is 50pc off," the teenager said. "I've spent around €300 from my part-time job and I feel I've got a lot for that and it's been a great day out."
Retail Excellence expected shoppers to splash around €200m on St Stephen's Day, with the bulk being spent on groceries and hospitality.