St Stephen's Day sales brings out shoppers at 6am for the best deals

It's that time of year again - when people push aside the remnants of the selection box and walk off the Christmas Day excesses by barrelling around the St Stephen's Day sales.

St Stephen's Day sales brings out shoppers at 6am for the best deals

It's that time of year again - when people push aside the remnants of the selection box and walk off the Christmas Day excesses by barrelling around the St Stephen's Day sales.

With retail watchdogs forecasting an improved festive period for the sector compared with last year, the scene was set for the traditional images of throngs of bargain-hungry shoppers pouring into department stores at the stroke of 9am.

Brown Thomas on Grafton St has become a hub for sales activity, with more than a hundred people gathered outside its doors for the 9am kick-off amid reports that some shoppers had waited since 6am.

The store quickly became a hive of activity and Donald McDonald, managing director, Brown Thomas said: “There is a great atmosphere in store on St Stephen’s Day and excitement amongst our customers as it’s a great opportunity for them to enjoy big reductions on their favourite brands and items they’ve been wanting. The demand is always strong across the store, particularly for womenswear, menswear and handbags as many items are up to 50% off the original price. Not only are our customers picking up sale items, they take an early opportunity to shop new season arrivals also.”

Other stores reporting hefty footfall included Arnotts in Dublin, Brown Thomas in Cork city, Harvey Norman stores around the country and Next, which opened its Henry St store in Dublin at 6am.

Retail Excellence Ireland said the keenness of shoppers to bag a bargain after Christmas was likely to result in a positive overall picture for the retail sector, with growth expected to rise 1% to 2% compared with the same period last year.

Niall Mullane from Mallow, getting some advice from store manager Denis Stanton, at the Christmas sales in Gentleman's Quarters, Cork. Picture: David Keane
Niall Mullane from Mallow, getting some advice from store manager Denis Stanton, at the Christmas sales in Gentleman's Quarters, Cork. Picture: David Keane

A Retail Excellence spokesperson said: "Overall Christmas 2019 will be marginally ahead of last year, with some retailers facing a more challenging environment, depending on which sector of Irish retail. There is no doubt, that there continues to be fundamental shifts in consumers' behaviour, driven in some cases by the relentless rise in the use of digital media and in particular smart phones, and in other cases, there are generational shifts away from physical goods to more experiential-based retailing, and finally there is a growing awareness of the whole area of sustainability."

Retail Excellence said the recent Black Friday event indicated continuing growth in online sales, with an average growth of 30% on the previous year, although it stressed that there was still a "significant spend" on the .co.uk and international .com retailers which meant money was leaving the country rather than benefitting the tills of Irish retailers.

Colm O Gadhra from Wellington Road, making a purchase from Lynn Hegarty at the Christmas sales in Saville, Cork. Picture: David Keane.
Colm O Gadhra from Wellington Road, making a purchase from Lynn Hegarty at the Christmas sales in Saville, Cork. Picture: David Keane.

"There is evidence that in some cases it is Peter robbing to pay Paul, and the sales being taken from the physical store," the spokesperson said, adding that this year's Christmas season has benefitted from a benign year on the weather front, with no extreme weather events.

While the St Stephen's Day weather wasn't exactly obliging in all parts of the country, it's likely retailers will be ringing in the new year with a clearing of the shelves.

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