Cross-border trade boosting record Christmas sales in NI

Christmas 2019 has been an “exceptional” trading period for a number of major retail outlets in Northern Ireland, with some stores in Newry reporting their best sales performance on record.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 26th December 2019, 6:11 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th December 2019, 6:46 pm
Buttercrane Centre manager Peter Murray said alcohol and baby products were two big sellers in November and December
Buttercrane Centre manager Peter Murray said alcohol and baby products were two big sellers in November and December

A strong euro has been credited with a bumper holiday period for traders close to the border with the Irish Republic.

Buttercrane Centre manager Peter Murray said alcohol and baby products were two big sellers in November and December.

“Some stores performed particularly strongly and some recorded their best-ever December trading figures in Buttercrane Centre, which is great news for those retailers concerned, the centre and indeed Newry itself,” he said.

“There were several factors which positively impacted on trade in Newry in November and early December, including the strong euro and resulting cross-border trade.

“Even with the result of the UK general election and subsequent softening of the euro there did appear to be an almost last-minute rush of southern shoppers coming to Newry to purchase in bulk and availing of significant savings in lines like alcohol, baby products, chocolates and medicines.”

In Banbridge, centre director at The Boulevard, Chris Nelmes, described the latest trading period as an “exceptional winter,” and added: “The Boulevard has been consistently busy from Black Friday in November leading up to Christmas Eve with the best sales recorded for this period.

“Most stores had massive discounts leading into Christmas and with sale prices on top of the existing outlet discounts, customers were getting fantastic bargains. The first day of the winter sale has been no exception with footfall exceeding that of last year’s despite the poor weather.”

Chris Flynn, retail director of The Junction in Antrim, said the centre enjoyed “a last-minute Christmas rush” with visitor numbers up by 11% on December 23 compared to 2018, and a massive rise on December 24.

He said the dry, bright weather on Christmas Eve brought a 74% rise in visitor numbers versus the same day last year.

“Click & collect services were also busy at stores, with lots of customers collecting parcels and buying last-minute stocking fillers,” Mr Flynn added.

Fergal Rafferty, manager at Foyleside Centre in Londonderry, said they had a “really successful trading period ... especially the last week of trading before Christmas”.

He added: “We had Super Saturday, which this year fell on Saturday, December 21 and exceptional trading days on Monday 23 and Tuesday 24.

“And with Christmas falling midweek, Boxing Day sales and the remainder of the week it looks set to be a really successful trading week.”