DESPITE early forcasts that might have suggested a particularly tough winter period for retailers, early reports from the Marshes Shopping Centre suggest a welcome increase in business this Christmas.
Last year, due to both weather conditions and the economy in general, retailers were particularly hard pinched at the equivalent time of year, but according to Marshes manager Harry Traynor, business has been brisk at the Dundalk centre.
“We had a very good couple of weeks in December, starting from about the second week ofthe month,” said Harry. “Towards the end of November the signs looked like it may be a quiet Christmas period, but we have been pleasantly surprised.
“I haven’t as yet got the footfall numbers but we are hoping for an increase in the double figures percentage wise.
“It would seem that people have heeded the call to stay local and support the town.
The better weather compared to last Christmas has obviously helped retailers as well this year.
“Another big factor I believe is that the way Christmas fell, it lent itself to people taking a holiday the week between Christmas on the Sunday and New Years. When people have a week off they tend to like to do a bit of shopping, which may well be a factor,” said Harry. “People also realise that going North to shop is no longer viable and are choosing to remain loyal to Dundalk.”
Harry has also installed auxiliary heaters to heat the Rampart end of the centre.
“The last few years that end of the shopping centre has been slightly cooler and that side of the complex is more exposed, so we have brought in the extra heaters as a necessity.”
Across the country, retailers appear have received a timely boost this December, with sales set to show their first year-on-year increase in four years.
Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) said sales rose by 0.68 per cent in December, the first time they have risen since March 2008.
It would also seem that Dundalk has slightly bucked the national trend. Retail Ireland’s Stephen Lynam said that, nationally, sales rose in early December, but declined again in the middle of the month. “Christmas week and the current week appear to be better than last year, but it is likely that total retail sales for the whole of 2011 will end up at around the same as those in 2010,” he stated.