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Sterling surge sees return of shoppers

BORDER shopping towns are seeing a new influx of visitors from the North, not witnessed for five years.

The increase in sterling means many shops in the Republic can offer up to €1.30 for the pound.

The boom isn't confined to retail, with hotels and restaurants also doing well after years of seeing consumers going the other way.

It's also good news for the thousands of cross-border workers who get paid in Sterling in the North but live south of the Border.


"The exchange rate has held now for a considerable period and that has boosted confidence," said Toni Forrester, CEO of the Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce.

"We are seeing large numbers of customers coming from Derry and even from Belfast.

Prices have come down and with the exchange rate they are getting even better value.

"You just have to look at the number of Northern cars in our car parks to see the difference."

The retail sector is also getting a boost from consumers in the Republic who are staying at home to do their shopping in the run-up to Christmas.

"I'd like to see all retailers offering the same exchange rate at €1.30 across the board because many don't. Some shops are offering €1.10 and it would be better if we all stuck to the same rate," said Gary Cooney, who opened a home and garden centre just four weeks ago in Letterkenny.

Terry McEniff, owner of Letterkenny's Mount Errigal Hotel, says the tourism industry is also getting a late-year boost from the value of sterling.

"We are booked out," he said. "We've had a great year with the Wild Atlantic Way and visitors now coming from all over Ireland.

"There is an added boost now from groups coming to the town to shop and booking in for the weekend."