Handbags at dawn as shoppers snap up sales bargains
IT's all about the Gucci bag. Big or small, shoulder or clutch, young Chinese women couldn't get enough of the brand on the first day of the sales yesterday.
Brown Thomas slashed the price of designer handbags by an average of 40pc yesterday -- and stylish Chinese women were the most eager to hand over their cash.
With St Stephen's Day sales worth an estimated €120m to the economy, struggling retailers breathed a sigh of relief as shoppers jostled for the best bargains.
The Centre for Retail Research, one of Europe's leading retail experts, said that yesterday was one of the busiest shopping days of the year, with the average shopper spending around €60.
Traffic was heavy at centres in towns and cities across the country including Cork's Mahon Point and Galway's Eyre Square.
The queues at Brown Thomas in Dublin began just after 6.30am and snaked around onto Wicklow Street and Clarendon Street.
The biggest draw of the day in the store was the Gucci section where security had to be called in to control the crowds.
"The only problem is there's too many people and not enough stock," said Chinese woman Vivienne Tang as she searched through Miu Miu and Prada handbags.
When asked why Chinese people, in particular, were flocking to the sales, she said: "We love labels and Gucci and Prada are the bigger designers in China. The discounts are making us come here."
"Business is up double digits this year," said BT group managing director Stephen Sealey.
"And bags are an easy purchase. You don't need to try them on in the same way as clothes. Ladieswear tends to be more popular as the day goes on and traffic moves up."
Meanwhile, Arnotts in Dublin also reported strong handbag sales, with one eager shopper picking up nine designer brands. The woman shelled out €1,332 for the bags -- which would normally have sold at €3,230 full price.
Hundreds queued on Henry Street as up to 70pc was knocked off, with Lauren by Ralph Lauren and Guess among the most popular handbag brands.
River Island shops also drew in crowds with its sale offering up to 50pc discounts.
Susan Nicholson was one smart shopper who had earmarked a coat she liked. "I got it for €60 today. It was €140 before. I got another one for €45, down from €130," she said.
Other stores that drew long queues were Debenhams and Clerys in Dublin.