Exchange rate boost for border towns

Traders along the border are seeking to boost business as customers flock from the North to enjoy the strongest sterling exchange rates seen for years.

Petrol stations in border villages such as Muff, Co Donegal, are among those benefiting from the differential as ‘Northern reg’ drivers queue to fill up.

On the currency markets yesterday, £1 was worth just over €1.23. But some near-border forecourts are offering as much as €1.25 to attract customers.

McGonigle’s Maxol station in Muff is one outlet that has been enjoying a sales bounce in recent weeks.

The station — located about 5km from Derry city — is offering sterling customers an extra 25c on the pound. Their petrol and diesel prices per litre yesterday were 162.4c and 155.9c, respectively.

“We are generally steady, but we have noticed things a lot busier in the last couple of weeks due to the euro getting weaker and everything that’s happening in Greece,” said the outlet’s manager, Frances Gallagher.

“These days, the banks might give about 22% on sterling if you’re lucky, but we are being that little bit more generous,” she added.

Other forecourts in the village are also offering the same 25% exchange rate to boost business.

Meanwhile, the weaker euro is also making it more expensive for people to shop in cities such as Derry.

Kieran Doherty is manager of SuperValu in Buncrana, Co Donegal, and is also vice-chairman of the town’s chamber of commerce. He says there has been a noticeable rise in trade at the store in recent weeks as people opt to shop locally.

“Our sales are up about 4% in the last fortnight and are also up on the same period last year.

“Not as many people are travelling across to shop in Derry because of the poor euro exchange rates,” Mr Doherty said.

The mayor of Buncrana, Cllr Nicholas Crossan, said the seaside town expected a significant rise in the number of tourists from Britain and the North this summer as the euro slides.


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