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Big savings on women’s clothing expected in Stephen’s Day sales today after drop in pre-Christmas buying


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Though certain retailers experienced strong trade in the run-up to Christmas, ladies’ fashion and footwear sales were down by approximately 10pc, according to experts, which could lead to deals on excess stock

Balmy weather in November and early December was good for outdoor types but maybe not so good for all elements of the fashion retail sector.

Sales of women’s fashion and ­footwear took something of a battering in many stores around the country, down by approximately 10pc, according to Retail Excellence Ireland, which has 13,000 members around the country, from SMEs and family-owned ­independent businesses to large multinationals.

While the wind and rain whipping up last week sent some shoppers running to invest in winter coats, knitwear and boots, stores faced with a surplus of winter stock to shift may introduce deep discounting this week to get it moving before the first drops of Spring/Summer ’24 clothing start arriving.

“I would say that everyone, bar ­ladies’ fashion and footwear, are having a strong and positive Christmas but those two categories are behind,” said Jean McCabe, CEO of Retail Excellence.

“The likes of furniture, tech, ­consumer goods, phone stores and the big-ticket items have been trading particularly well,” said Ms McCabe.

The pre-Christmas retail patterns around the country have varied this year, and while beauty was reported as strong by some retailers, certain pharmacies said they did not have the same experience, with figures down around 5pc.

Many shoppers heading into the sales today will have done their research online or taken advantage of discounts there.

Trans-seasonal clothing is always popular at this time and the more trend-driven shoppers will be keeping an eye out for lifestyle bargains in the Pantone colour of the year, peach fuzz.

Many consumers will be heading to stores to spend Christmas gift ­vouchers but for others, the target will be “experiential” investments such as high-end luggage for travel during the year.

Dundrum Town Centre, the country’s largest shopping centre, reopens today at 9am, with stores such as Brown Thomas launching the sale with discounts of up to 50pc, while other stores, like Next, start their sale tomorrow.

In terms of a Christmas rush, Don Nugent, manager at Dundrum Town Centre, said: “What we found generally is that it came late but last week was really, really strong. People were spending and they were gifting.

“They were also buying for themselves and buying a bit differently than they did last year. Whereas last year people were buying outfits, this year they were complementing the outfits they bought last year and that seems to be the trend.

“What people are saying is that they are buying fewer items but they are buying more expensive ones, so the average transaction value has actually increased. Now part of that is inflation, of course, but in terms of the trend against last year, it’s a different behaviour. People are buying fewer things but they are buying more expensive ones and we are seeing that in both mass market and premium,” he said.

After the Dublin riots on November 23, retail in the capital rallied for Christmas.

In the week of Monday, December 11, to Sunday, December 17, footfall was up 9.6pc on the same week in 2022, according to Richard Guiney, CEO of Dublin Town, which represents the interests of city centre business owners.

“The weekend after the riots was obviously very challenging but the city has turned a corner and I think it is testament to the combined cooperation between the gardaí, the Government, the council, the business community – and it shows what can be done when we all focus our minds together,” he said.

“It has been a decent Christmas and the spend has been good. What has worked in the last couple of weeks, we want to see it continuing. We have faced challenges in the city so I do think we need a focus on the city.”

Proposed traffic changes in 2024 ­include the introduction of bus gates on Dublin’s quays and making Pearse Street and Tara Street access only.

“We absolutely need business input into the traffic proposals because, as they stand, there’s a lot of confusion and a lack of clarity about how deliveries are going to be made.

“There’s a lot of changes. It could work but it will certainly need to be planned and I think there needs to be a lot of workshopping and engagement required between here and the implementation of those changes to make sure that they’re not actually detrimental and that they do work for the city,” Mr Guiney said.

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