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Consumers show they are willing to buy -- as long as the price is right

SHOPPERS are willing to buy this Christmas -- so long as the price is right.

An Irish Independent survey of some of the largest shopping centres yesterday found that sales are up compared with the same time last year, but the comparison could be slightly misleading because numbers last year were substantially down due to the big freeze.

Retailers say shoppers are spending less, suggesting that bargain-hunting was the order of the day.

St Stephen's Green Shopping Centre in central Dublin is reporting a marginal increase in numbers over last year of about 2pc. The number of transactions are up but the total spend is down.

"It did start off slowly but it has picked up and next week will be the busiest of the year," centre manager Greg Devitt said.

Footfall is up on this time last year when many shoppers completely avoided icy streets during December and turned to the internet instead.

The Galway Shopping Centre is reporting an 8.5pc increase in footfall this season over last, said manager Giovanni Carroll.

"We're happy. With the VAT increase imminent, people are looking to spend now," he said.

"But people are shopping around and are wary of what they're buying," he added.

In Cork city, the MahonPoint Shopping Centre is seeing about the same numbers as this time last year. General manager Justin Young said: "All things considered, it's good."

But he agreed that many retailers were already jumping the gun and offering pre-Christmas sales.

The desire to avoid the 2pc increase in VAT in January was also spurring on sales, he added.

One Dublin mall bucking the trend is Dundrum Town Centre, where footfall is up about 4pc over 2009, the last Christmas season that wasn't affected by inclement weather.

Irish Independent