Christmas cheer has come early to Inishowen as retail traders in the peninsula say they are having their best Christmas season in years.
More shoppers are buying local because, it is claimed, prices in the South are now on par with the North, the euro has weakened considerably against sterling and many locals - because of the economic situation - are making a deliberate, conscientious choice to buy Irish.
Speaking with the ‘Journal’ yesterday ladies fashion shop owner, Deirdre Bradley, of Elegance in Carndonagh, was very positive: “What we are hearing is that people are saying it’s not worth it going north - the inconvenience, the parking problems, the cost etc.
“Also, the fall in the euro against sterling could have come at a better time, and it is certainly very welcome.
“ But it’s not just that - we have as good a selection as they have in Derry, and our prices are now every bit as competitive.
“I think people are aware too that they are doing good by leaving money in their own communities, that they are appreciated for this and that it is helping the local economy.”
Ms. Bradley also cited an example of where she had bought a computer game locally for 44 euro.
“ So much for being cheaper in the north - that same game is selling in Derry for £44.”
Ciaran Doherty, Manager of Supervalu in Buncrana, was equally upbeat: “Last year was pretty good because the weather meant most people would not risk ice and snow to travel so we were expecting a downturn this year because the weather is mild. It hasn’t happened. We are on a par, if not up a little, on last year. And I regard that as excellent.”
Mr. Doherty said there was ‘serious value’ in his store across the board but particularly in regard to the off-licence section where they had, he said, invested ‘serious money’.
Lorraine Carey of LC Clothing and the Buncrana Chamber of Commerce was also in a positive mood.
“In Buncrana there around 1,500 people employed in the shops, restaurants and businesses, and there is a belief that people are depending on that work and custom to get by. Especially with the level of emigration in Buncrana in the past few months, people now have a better understanding of why is it so important to shop local.”
She went on: “I think there is a general feeling especially today [Thursday] with the euro value falling the other way, that more people are shopping local - that they are getting real value.
“As well as that people started shopping a lot earlier this year maybe because the weather was so bad last year, but since Halloween we have had a Christmas shop where people can pay for their items or presents in drips and drabs.... Paying a tenner here and there can be a lot easier on people financially.”
A strong believer in the ‘shop local’ motto, Lorraine believes the message is hitting home for people in Inishowen.
“Personally doing my shopping here, I think Buncrana is much more competitive for food and other items, but local retailers have worked hard to make it that way.”