Saturday 23 March 2019

Prepare for an exodus of shoppers going North

The difference between retail prices North and South is simply astounding, writes Daniel McConnell

Daniel McConnell

SOUTHERN shoppers are set to invade the North in greater numbers this summer, starting this bank holiday weekend, to avail of massive savings of many household necessities and luxuries.

Shoppers from the South who head North for a bargain are now saving 100 per cent or more on many items as a result of the ever increasing strength of the euro versus sterling.

Also, after several years of throngs of southern shoppers crossing the Border, attracting euro customers is now big business for the main retailers in places such as Newry and Belfast, with most stores now accepting both sterling and euro, and with highly competitive exchange rates to be found.

Priced earlier this week, some items were twice as expensive in the South than across the Border. For example, last Thursday, a 2.85kg box of Fairy Non-Bio Washing powder cost £6.73 or €8.56 in Sainsbury's Newry while the same box in a Tesco store south of the Border in Dundalk cost €13.49.

A litre bottle of Smirnoff cost €16.25 in Newry was almost double that at €29.25 in the same Tesco store.

"Newry pitches itself as a dual-currency city with many stores offering very competitive euro rates. At the weekends, at least half the shopping spaces at the Quays shopping centre in Newry are filled with southern cars," a spokeswoman for Newry retailers said.

The Sunday Independent found further price-savings across the board by hitting the road and going North. For example, an 8gb Creative Zen last week would have cost you £49.99 or €64.09, while in Dublin the same item cost €129.99. But more day-to-day items were about a third more expensive in the South. A six-pack of Walkers Crisps last Thursday cost £1.08/€1.37 in Newry while it cost €1.69 in Supervalu on Talbot St, Dublin. At the same store, six cans of Heineken cost €11.10 while the same amount cost €5.44 in Newry last Thursday.

A spokesman for the National Consumer Agency said these prices are a wake-up call for retailers here. "The numbers going over the Border will only increase given these kinds of savings. It's a terrible loss to our economy."

Earlier last week, Ann Fitzgerald told an Oireachtas Committee that she was stunned when she found that chain stores like Aldi and Lidl were charging over 50 per cent more for the same goods in Ireland than in England.

A number of multi-store chains this week also admitted to charging different prices for the same good in different stores. They put the blame down to higher operating costs in some stores. However, the Government and the NCA have told consumers to be vigilant and to "shop around".

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