Sunday 21 January 2018

Sales fever sets in - and even the men got up early

Niamh O’Connor from Templeogue in Dublin looks at some handbags at the Brown Thomas sales Photos: Tony Gavin
Niamh O’Connor from Templeogue in Dublin looks at some handbags at the Brown Thomas sales Photos: Tony Gavin
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

Thousands of bargain hunters braved the cold for the annual St Stephen's Day sales, where the lure of a hefty discount was too good to resist.

Despite the popularity of online sales like Black Friday, sales fever is still alive and well in our cities - once the Christmas dinner dishes have been washed.

In Dublin, this was very evident on both sides of the Liffey as Brown Thomas and Arnotts both opened their doors at 9am to an expectant crowd yesterday.

Anita Kus (30), from Ranelagh, made a dash into town even though she is heavily pregnant and due to undergo a caesarean section in three days.

"I can't wait to have my second baby, and while I won't be able to wear these shoes for a while they will be there for me when I'm ready," she said with a laugh as she proudly showed off her Brown Thomas bargains.

"These Pradas were €690 and I am getting them for €345, and the Aquazzuras are reduced from €575 to €289. I only have a size two foot so I find it hard to get shoes."

Anna Kala, from Dublin 6, shows her sales bargains on Dublin’s Grafton Street Photo: Tony Gavin
Anna Kala, from Dublin 6, shows her sales bargains on Dublin’s Grafton Street Photo: Tony Gavin

Industry experts were expecting €130m to be spent yesterday alone following a drop in pre-Christmas sales and the uncertainty that the Brexit effect brought to the Irish marketplace.

Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, said the next few days would be crucial in determining if Christmas 2016 would meet earlier positive expectations.

"An increase in cross-Border trade and growing competition from UK-based online retailers has drained a lot of the additional consumer disposable income away from domestic retailers," said Retail Ireland director Thomas Burke.

He said that with price reductions, and with more people working and a slight rise in disposable income, it was hoped retail sales would be buoyant in the post-Christmas period.

"Prices fell by 3pc in the last 12 months alone as competition between retailers has driven prices back to Christmas 2000 levels.

"Retailers are hoping this will entice more consumer spend and translate into valuable sales in the coming days," he said.

Brown Thomas store director Mark Limby said a queue snaked around the building on Grafton Street before opening.

"We had just over 1,000 people in the first 30 seconds, which is really good," he told the Irish Independent.

Singer Brian Kennedy in BT Photos: Tony Gavin
Singer Brian Kennedy in BT Photos: Tony Gavin

"But the big difference we saw was that people normally come into accessories and handbags but this year we saw a lot of men.

"That is unusual because they tend to stay in bed longer and come in later, but it was very busy in menswear when we opened, so maybe they got money and gift cards for Christmas.

"We have 50 to 60pc off a lot of stock and expect to be really busy for the next three or four days.

"We still get massive footfall for our first day sale, that hasn't changed.

"Things are quite traditional that way and it will be one of our busiest days of the year."

Crowds of shoppers grappled with railings of clothes - determined to find the best bargain going.

Singer Brian Kennedy was one of the shoppers up early and keen to find a good deal.

"I live in Dublin and I can't resist a sale," he said.

"This is where we should be doing our shopping - in our own towns.

"I used to think Brown Thomas was a bit posh for me, but on a day like today everything becomes affordable and it makes it possible for everyone to find a good bargain."

By yesterday evening, Brown Thomas reported a "strong day's trading".

On the other side of town the car park at Arnotts was almost full by noon, and inside the iconic store there was plenty of activity at all the registers.

A quick survey of what was on offer showed a 20pc discount on Hugo Boss items, and there were savings of up to 50pc in footwear.

In kitchen appliances, a DeLonghi Nespresso machine was reduced from €300 to €200.

"Following a very good run up to Christmas, we are seeing a strong start to the sale and trading has exceeded expectations," said Arnotts managing director Donald McDonald.

"Our menswear and accessories departments are busier than ever while our beauty and jewellery departments are seeing a strong demand.

"Arnotts sales are ahead of last year both in store and online."

Irish Independent

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