Rain hits sales but shops still post-Christmas expect trading to be brisk
Poor weather has hit retailers in post-Christmas trading but the sector is still performing well, according to representative groups.
Footfall was expected to increase in many towns across the country yesterday with many independent retailers starting their sales offers, but the weather may have had a negative impact, Retail Excellence Ireland spokeswoman Lynn Drumgoole said.
"It was a strong start across many sectors, with average transaction value up. However, the weather negatively impacted footfall for some retailers on St Stephen's Day," she added.
Thomas Burke, from Ibec's retail arm Retail Ireland, said that as of yesterday the group's members were still on course for a 3.5pc increase in sales on last year.
That's despite the weather and a slight drop in footfall for some in the aftermath of Black Friday, the emergence of which has led to an earlier start to the Christmas trading season.
But he said that the growth would be focused on Dublin and other urban centres as regional towns and villages aren't performing as well.
"Competition is intense and consumers will benefit from heavy discounting, with prices on par with December 2001," Mr Burke said.
"With 60,000 more people at work this year, disposable income rising and increased consumer optimism about the future, we are now hopeful that this strong performance can continue into 2016," he added.
Retailers slashed prices by as much as 70pc to lure even more festive season shoppers through their doors.
Donald McDonald, Arnotts managing director, told the Herald thousands of bargain hunters braved the wet and windy weather to snap up some of the special offers.
"The strong trade before Christmas has continued into the winter sale period, with customers spending right across all the home categories, from kitchenware to furniture," he said.
Graeme McQueen, of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, said footfall had been brisk across all sectors.
"A lot of consumers held off and waited until the actual sales - so it's been a busy couple of days for most shop owners.
"Many outlets have gone all out to provide really good offers this year," Mr McQueen said.
"In the past, a lot of sales actually began before the Christmas period, but there was a notable change this year.
"Many stores did have partial sales before the festive season but, generally, outlets waited until this point in time to put some of their stock on offer.
"This encouraged consumers to go out and look for a good bargain because, generally, people are of a mind to spend a bit more this Christmas," he said.
"But while there's more confidence out there, value for money is still very important, with savvy customers keeping an eye out for bargains," he added.