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Weak pound gives Northern Irish indies cross-border boost

Irish shoppers head north over the border to “get more for their money”.




Independents in Northern Ireland have seen an uptick in the number of customers travelling from the Republic of Ireland to take advantage of the drop in the value of sterling since the Brexit vote.

Last week the pound fell to a six-year low against the euro, dropping below €1.10 for the first time since March 2010.

Over the last couple of years independents in Northern Ireland have experienced a drop-off in trade from customers south of the border as a result of the strength of sterling. However, since the European Union referendum many retailers have welcomed an increase in cross-border shoppers.

“We have seen a substantial increase over the last few months,” said Edel Liggett, co-owner of contemporary womenswear boutique Harry & George in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.

“It has to be down to the currency, as the general economic climate hasn’t changed. We’re seeing a lot more customers from the south because of the exchange rate. It’s a good opportunity for them to get more for their money.”

Hilary Gardner, owner of mother-of-the-bride boutique Elegant Lady in Lisnaskea, also in County Fermanagh agreed:

“We’re seeing a great improvement. The cross-border trade had dropped off, but it is definitely coming back.”

Asta McCabe, shop manager at occasionwear independent City Lady Boutique, which has branches in Enniskillen, Fermanagh and County Cavan in the Republic of Ireland, said the Enniskillen store had seen “plenty more” shoppers from the south since the devaluation of the pound.

“There definitely has been a jump in southern shoppers – we’re noticing the difference big time.”

Lorna Crawford, owner of Crawford’s Menswear in Belfast, said the store had seen an increase in shoppers from both the Republic of Ireland and the US.

“We’ve had a few more southern customers but the biggest change we’ve noticed is the increase in American customers. Last year any US shoppers that popped in would have looked but not bought anything but now they are spending as they are getting a really good rate on sterling.”

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