The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has urged border convenience stores to “grab it while you can” as bargain hunters from the Republic pour in to capitalise on the favourable exchange rate.
The sector has reported up to a 70% uplift in some cases with great deals on cigarettes, alcohol, petrol and general groceries, c-stores reported.
Glyn Roberts, NIIRTA’S chief executive, said: “With the ongoing currency fluctuations, we are seeing significant business in cross-border shoppers from North to South.
“While I welcome this, with many members doing very well, there’s also recognition it won’t last.”
It was a case of “grab it while you can,” he said. “It’s very welcome this side of Christmas. Families from the South do a big shop and fill their cars up.”
“We haven’t had any reports of problems with stock or supplies. Hopefully that won’t materialise.”
Roberts reported anecdotal evidence of a 20%-30% sales uplift in some stores but one retailer, McCullaghs Classic Service Station in Omagh, told C-Store he had seen a 60-70% sales uplift although some of that was because of the business’s forecourt extension a month ago.
Darren Given, general manager at McCullagh’s, said a knock-on benefit of the pound’s decline had been that it had stopped a lot of Northern Ireland customers going South for their fuel which was prevalent four to five months ago when fuel was cheaper in the Republic.
“Our customers are staying local which is brilliant news,” he said.
Dolan’s Nisa Local, on the border, in Strabane, reported a 20% increase in sales – not just alcohol but on the forecourt and general groceries. General manager Alan Orr said kerosene sales had increased 40-45% because it was even more expensive in the South, where there was a carbon tax.