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Dublin: 4°C Monday 6 December 2021

Ireland drops its brand obsession as December retail sales tail off

Customers are no longer obsessed with labels as they leave the credit cards at home when shopping, says retailers’ association.

Retail sales will see a dip for December, even taking into account the Christmas shopping rush
Retail sales will see a dip for December, even taking into account the Christmas shopping rush

DURING THE BOOM, we were branded a label-obsessed society. Economist David McWilliams described it as “the need to acquire brands to differentiate us from the rest of the ‘yellowpackers’,” as far back as 2001.

Now the shopping landscape has changed utterly, according to Retail Excellence Ireland. The retailers’ representatives association has said that customers are focusing on price rather than brand names.

The group warned that December will be the weakest month for retail sales in recent times – sales are expected to drop by 6.7 per cent when compared with December of last year.

However, there is a boon for local retailers. Consumers are staying away from major shopping centres on the outskirts of towns in favour of shopping local as the bad weather hampers transport. David Fitzsimons, CEO of Retail Excellence Ireland said:

While regional retailers have been negatively impacted due to reduced shopper activity they have also gained as customers stay local. Retailers who are in the worst distress are those who are in the primary shopping centres and retail park locations with Dublin hit very severely.

There has also been a drop in the use of credit cards as customers are sticking to the cash they can count in their pocket. Other trends identified include:

  • A drop in gift card sales – Retail Excellence Ireland claims some customers are worried about the ability of some retailers to continue to trade in the new year;
  • Customers look for additional discounts at the till, especially when dealing with independent retailers;
  • Cross-border shopping trips are significantly reduced from 2009 levels due to the current sterling-euro exchange rate and the adverse weather;
  • A majority of retailers are complaining that rent and rates are still too high;
  • Late-night trading has been hit as customers want to get home as early as possible;
  • Retailers expect a fall-off in retail activity from January 10 onwards and hope that a general election might “deliver some consumer optimism”.

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