EAGLE-eyed Cork shoppers have been out in force in recent days, snapping up bargains all over the city centre and suburbs.
Numerous independent and chain stores in the city centre reported brisk trading as the sales got underway, either on St Stephen’s Day or yesterday.
Saville Menswear was one of the stores that were back to work straight after Christmas and proprietors Pam O’Regan said business was ‘flying’.
“It was flying all day,” she said. “We were just as busy as last year, it was very busy.
“I am up the walls again today, I am here at the front till and we can barely cope!”
The always-popular Brown Thomas sale also started on St Stephen’s Day, with up to 50% off drawing large volumes of shoppers.
In Fitzgerald Menswear yesterday, Eddie Mullins reported ‘fantastic’ footfall, although he believes the gardaí’s morning-after campaign may have encouraged shoppers to avoid coming in too early.
“I think people were cautious the first hour, because of the drink-driving situation but things have exploded since 10 or 11 o’clock,” he said.
“We are very happy, a lot of quality sells. “People have been watching things from before Christmas and are in with a focus.” Mr Mullins also welcomed the fact that Cork appeared to be a popular destination for shoppers this festive season, with retailers seeing plenty of customers from the suburbs and further afield.
Overall, he said the festive season had been good for retailers after a sluggish start.
“The pre-Christmas shopping was intense,” he said. “It started in December when in the past it would have started in October with a trickle so it was very intense. Evening trading was very good, Sunday trading was excellent, it was very good.” Traders in the city centre have has a tricky couple of months between traffic changes and roadworks but Mr Mullins is hopeful that the festive period will have offered businesses a chance to recover.
“I think most retailers will be happy and with the uncertainty and everything going on, we are pleased to have a good season,” he said.
Mahon Point was also extremely busy on St Stephen’s Day when Next got things underway by opening at 6am for its traditional and well-supported sale. Zara, Debenhams and other stores were open by 10am and both shops and cafes in the centre were busy all day.
Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, said that the next few days would be crucial in determining if Christmas 2018 would meet earlier positive expectations nationwide.
“2018 has been an up and down year for Irish retail and one characterised by a series of peaks and troughs in trading,” Director of Retail Ireland, Thomas Burke, said.
“The sector is still hopeful that growth targets can be realised, but trading conditions have been challenging.
Trade in the early part of the year was severely disrupted by heavy snowfall while conversely, the long, hot dry summer brought bumpers sales for some categories of retail.
“Retailers have also been impacted by bad weather as storms and inclement weather hit during vital shopping weekends in the run-up to Christmas Day itself,” he said.
“Footfall on these weekends was down significantly on comparable weekends in previous years.” With disposable income up, Mr Burke said it is ‘a great time to be an Irish shopper’.
“Allied to this, goods prices are now down almost 10% since 2013, as competition between retailers has driven prices back to Christmas 1999 levels,” he said.
“Retailers are hoping this will entice more consumer spend and translate into valuable sales in the coming days.”