Wednesday 21 March 2018

The tide is starting to turn on cross-border shopping as Sterling slides

Donegal captain and shop owner Michael Murphy with Hailey Wolf, who is home from New York. Photo: Joe Boland (North West Newspix)
Donegal captain and shop owner Michael Murphy with Hailey Wolf, who is home from New York. Photo: Joe Boland (North West Newspix)

Greg Harkin

Something seemed to happen yesterday that hasn't been seen in a long time at retail parks on either side of the Donegal-Derry border.

The tide, it seems, is turning on shopping as the Pound slid further - with the euro now worth 85p Sterling.

As a result, the sight of increasing numbers of Donegal-registered cars in the car parks of Derry's Crescent Link retail park was contrasted by the lack of Northern-registered cars in Letterkenny.

There is little doubt that, in retailers operating on both sides of the border, the slide of Sterling is offering more bargains in the North.

Outside Currys in Derry, Kathleen Stewart, from Donegal Town, was on a shopping trip with her daughter Alanna.

"You'll always get things cheaper on either side of the border if you shop around - but there is definitely more value now here in the North, especially if you convert your euro to sterling beforehand," she said.

She had just come out of the furniture retailer DFS.

"I wouldn't have been in Derry as much in the past few years, but it's worth coming more regularly now," she added.

Cross-border worker Sinead McMenamin lives in Inishowen and works at a customer care centre in Derry.

"I get paid in Sterling so I've always tended to shop in Derry because of the convenience," she said. "The only thing that would change things would be the return of the border. I couldn't handle checkpoints again and would probably just leave my job."

Back in Letterkenny, Donegal captain Michael Murphy is busy serving customers - including a family on holiday from New York - at his sports store.

"We had a great turnout of Sterling customers last year and earlier this year and perhaps some of that will slide now," he said.

"But we are still optimistic because of the range we have and a loyal customer base.

"We may need to diversify a bit more but we remain positive because Brexit is going to take some time to work itself out."

We visited Homebase, Argos, Halfords, Currys, Next and Tesco in Letterkenny and Derry yesterday and found that most items were cheaper in the North.

In Halfords, bicycles and other items were almost a match for each other, while a ladies bike was just €3 cheaper in the North.

However, an iPad 4 mini (128GB) in Currys in Derry was €44 cheaper that it was in Donegal.

In Argos, a 49-inch LG smart TV was €95 cheaper in its Derry store. Every item we picked in Derry's Tesco was cheaper, with some beer costing 40pc less, while in Next, clothes were around 25pc cheaper across the range.

Irish Independent

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