Shops across the north west are bracing themselves for hoards of shoppers today as the last minute pre-Christmas surge experienced earlier this week looks set to resume.
Bargain hunters from across Derry, Donegal and Tyrone are expected to be out in force as already slashed prices are expected to be further cut in the traditional sales.
Traders in Derry City have been reporting a mixed picture in terms of trade over the past month, but some have said that the weak euro to pound rate doesn’t seem to out people off travelling from across the border to buy their goods.
And many local shopkeepers and businesses are feeling the effects of a massive increase in footfall this week as hoards of shoppers gathered in the city centre each day and cleared supermarket shelves at stores across the city.
So much so, that management at Foyleside Shopping Centre are on target to receive over two million visitors during this festive period.
Centre manager Fergal Rafferty said: “This week has seen exceptionally busy trading days in the lead up to Christmas Day. We have had the three busiest trading days of the year.
“Foyleside is a regional destination, and is very much still attracting shoppers from Donegal and the south. Across the north west, people are very astute shoppers and they see the heavy discounting going on with lots of retailers.”
Mr Rafferty said Foyleside’s retailers were again expecting a major influx of shoppers today, many of whom will be looking to use their Foyleside gift cards. By Tuesday of this week, Foyleside had already sold more in giftcards than they had done over the Christmas period last year.
People were expected to have been queuing up from early hours of this morning as the Next sale was scheduled to get under way at 6am.
The Chief Executive of Derry’s Chamber of Commerce, Sinead McLaughlin, said: “The town has been chock-a-block this week in the run up to Christmas Day.
“There are a lot of stories to be told, some good, some bad, but there has been really bustling trade in the last days and week. With Christmas falling on a Thursday this week, it seems to have added to the number of people out pounding the streets.
“There have been a lot of unbelievable offers, even 50% off. You wouldn’t get much more than that on Boxing Day. They have actually run the sales and offers well in advance of Christmas this year. This is the high street fight back against internet shopping.
“I think also a lot of people have arrived home now on budget airlines with hand luggage and left their shopping until the got home and that is having an effect. There are a lot of young people about in the town over this week and they are buying.”
However Ms McLaughlin added a note of caution about the likely situation for traders in the New Year.
She said: “My greatest concern about the New Year is the austerity measures and budgetary constraints coming down from the government. That will have a real impact on all sectors and if the consumer spend is not there it will affect the retail sector.”