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Retailers rejoice in shopping bonanza

THE post-Christmas shopping frenzy continued over the weekend with retailers reporting a welcome buoyant start to the New Year.

Bargain hunters and shopaholics took advantage of widespread reductions as shops tried to make up for lost business during the period of heavy snows.

One of the country's biggest shopping centres, Dundrum Town Centre, experienced a double digit increase in both sales and footfall, according to Centre Director Don Nugent.

"We have had a really good week. We opened for the first time on St Stephen's Day and the sales figures have been very good," he said.

The centre's anchor store House of Fraser reported it had clawed back the turnover lost during the snow.

Mr Nugent said the strongest performance was for menswear, followed by footwear -- both men's and women's -- and women's accessories.

However, the year ahead is expected to be a challenging one for the retail industry, according to Torlach Denihan of Retail Ireland, the organisation which represents about 3,000 stores around the country.

He said the strong post-Christmas business was badly needed after the 10pc fall in retail sales in the week before Christmas.

But in a poll of retailers conducted by Retail Ireland, about half of all shops expect to lay off some staff in the next two months, while two-thirds believe prospects for business in the first three months of the year are "poor" or "very poor".

Given the outlook, retailers have called for planned pay increases for workers that are due to come into force this month to be postponed.

The pay increase of 1.25pc is due in the retail grocery sector.

But IBEC said retailers are being forced to increase wages at a time when they are facing unprecedented losses.

Irish Independent