Why I can't stop shopping
You'd think that with a recession on, savvy young women would be tightening the purse string. Not so, says Niamh Hopkins.
Throughout the boom, Dublin spawned a capital of die-hard women shoppers who flexed their plastic and upped their overdraft at every opportunity. They were fuelled by hard work and the need for a reward.
Now, there is a generation of young women who are finding it hard to cope with cutting back, despite all the warnings and advice about saving for the worst-case scenario -- unemployment.
To compete with sterling prices, a new trend has emerged where young Dublin women visit their favourite British high street stores to try on garments for size, before rushing back to their desks to order online from the UK, resulting in a cheaper purchase even with the delivery charge included.
According to European research carried out by eBay, the Irish are ahead when it comes to online shopping.
Sites such as Asos and the Outnet offer designer goods for discounted prices, making a little flutter on exhausted credit cards all too tempting.
While the Irish may have become conscious of getting value for money, we still love the thrill of purchase, indicated by the fact that we showed a 19pc increase in eBay use in the last year.
Despite the downturn forcing many people out of the shops, not all retailers are complaining.
High street chain Penneys has just announced a 21pc increase in sales for its most recent 16 weeks of trading.
In fact, so good are the figures that Penneys can boast a significant profit and is thriving at a time when other stores are struggling to survive.
These figures contradict the Central Statistics Office which has just disclosed that personal spending in Ireland has fallen dramatically for the first quarter of the year, indicating that our retail sector as a whole is in trouble.
Penneys figures are the store's best in four years, as the chain continues to up its ante in competing with more expensive high street fashion brands.
Committed shoppers, despite fears of losing their jobs, are still flocking to snap up Penneys irresistible fashion bargains, shifting their shopping gear to buy just as much but at a cheaper price.
While many girls are losing their jobs it might not be the done thing to admit that many are still shopping just as much.
Pop superstar Lady GaGa doesn't need to worry about the recession, but she has claimed that her shopping habits have left her on the verge of bankruptcy nearly four times, which shows that earning big money is no protection from the grips of 'shopaholism'.
In order to survive the downturn, many retailers are resorting to unbelievable sales, tempting shoppers with massive discounts that not everyone can resist, regardless of whether they can afford it or not.
Stylist Shirley Lane, (www.personalstylist.ie), says that while Irish women are changing their attitudes to shopping since the recession and want more value for money, many are continuing to shop, perhaps because looking good is relative to doing well in many careers and industries are become increasingly competitive.
According to Shirley, however, those with money in the bank are more likely to be clever and are cutting back, while women who have always shopped on credit are continuing to turn a blind eye as long as they hold on to their jobs.
Shirley believes that while Penneys is great for accessories, she thinks women do need to be smarter about their buys and invest in more classic pieces -- that will last longer -- rather than the disposable fashion on offer at many of the cheaper shops.
While many would view these young women's behaviour as worrying for them -- especially as they struggle to break free from shopping related debt -- the stores with continuous sales are thankful that they can rely on loyal shoppers such as these to keep them afloat.
After all, they're playing a small part in turning the economy around by shopping us out of the recession.