Independents in the Republic of Ireland are feeling confident following a strong summer and the strengthening of the euro.
In the three months to 30 June retail sales values grew by 4% on the same period last year while volumes increased by 7%, Retail Ireland’s latest figures indicate. Earlier this week the euro rose to its highest level against the pound since 2010, rising to £0.9141.
Patrick Bourke, founder of the eponymous premium menswear independent in Ennis, County Clare, said trading this summer is up around 6% on the back of increasing suit sales.
“The strength of the euro has no doubt inspired our forward buying,” said Bourke. “We’ve upped our orders for suits for spring 18.”
He also said he was encouraged by the UK government’s ambition to keep the border with Northern Ireland open, adding that restrictions would lead the business to look to buying “more continentally”.
Ruth Ní Loinsigh, owner at womenswear independent Om Diva in Dublin, said she is seeking to increase orders by 25% to 30% for spring 18, following positive trade so far this year.
“It’s been a good year for us – the best in a long time. We are seeing an increase in consumer confidence, with an increase in tourists from Europe and the US. We are also seeing spending increase to more than just one or two items.”
Christine Denning, manager at Dublin-based streetwear boutique Nowhere, echoed this sentiment: “Trading in Ireland is on a slight up at the moment. As we buy in euros, we’re in a strong position from that. We’re very happy with how the business is performing. We overhauled our product offering last year, dropped some brands that weren’t working for us, and are adding more brands for spring 18.”
However, north of the border Lorna Crawford, owner of Crawford’s Menswear in Belfast, said prices in general are increasing and consumers are spending more cautiously.
As a result she will keep budgets flat for the coming season. “Trading has been okay – I can’t complain. The autumn is always a better season for us.
“We’ll be sticking with brands we know will sell well: we won’t be looking for new product. I expect trading will remain challenging for the next few years, as prices are creeping up. Everyone is tightening their belts.”