The Cork Business Association (CBA) called on the city council last night to support the traders by opening some of the publicly-owned car parks for shoppers.
“We would like to see Paul Street car park open on the day,” CBA chief executive Donal Healy said.
“I can appreciate that some people may not want shops to open that day. But the most important thing at the moment is to maintain jobs and keep businesses afloat.”
Arnotts became the first major department store in Dublin to announce it would open on St Stephen’s Day, continuing a trend which began last year.
There was controversy last year when several large retailers in Cork broke with tradition and announced plans to open the day after Christmas. They ignored calls from the then Lord Mayor Cllr Dara Murphy to remain shut and to give their staff time off to enjoy the festive holidays with their families.
But it emerged last night that even more city retailers are planning to open their doors to bargain hunters on December 26.
Mr Healy said it has been an extremely difficult year for retailers, with some CBA members reporting double-digit falls in their sales this year.
Then the recent cold snap hit those already struggling with the recession.
Now retailers are planning to entice bargain hunters with sale offers of up to 70% off.
Penney’s has confirmed that it will open its St Patrick’s Street outlet for the first time on a St Stephen’s Day. It is expected to draw thousands of shoppers.
Leading businessman Jim O’Regan, who opened his Saville, Gentleman’s Quarters and two Tommy Hilfiger menswear stores in the city for the first time on St Stephen’s Day last year, said it is traditionally one of the biggest shopping days in Britain.
“We’re there to facilitate the public and meet a demand,” he said. “We were quite busy last year — not as busy as the second day of our sale — but not bad for the first time to open on a St Stephen’s Day. I think it’s going to improve every year.”
He plans to double staff numbers during the Christmas period, but declined to discuss their pay rates.
And now that there is clarity after the budget, Mr O’Regan is confident people will begin to start spending again.
Finbarr O’Shea, who runs the award-winning Flying Enterprise Complex just over the Nano Nagle Bridge on Sullivan’s Quay, said his Captain Table’s restaurant and bar will be open throughout the day to cater for hungry and thirsty shoppers.
* TK Maxx
* Top Shop
* River Island
* Brown Thomas
* Saville Menswear
* Gentleman’s Quarters
* Tommy Hilfiger
* Flying EnterpriseComplex
* Herlihy Centra, Oliver Plunkett Street and Grand Parade