Keeping it local seemed to be the motto for many shoppers in the pre-Christmas rush as traders around the county enjoyed the benefit of customers spending more money locally this year.
In recent years the festive run up saw an exodus of spenders head across the border in search of value and this year many business in the county said they were happy with the level of local shopping in December with reports of some trade up 30% on last year.
As well as the major retail centres, busy trading took place in west Donegal with last minute shoppers snapping up bargains in Falcarragh, Gweedore and Dungloe.
Post Christmas sales around the county are also reported to be off to a good start.
Toni Forrester, CEO of Letterkenny Chamber said, “The town was very busy in the final couple of days and it was certainly up overall compared to last year.
“We are hoping we can continue that busy trend with the sales which should provide a solid start to the New Year and the message to people is that there are bargains out there to be had. The shop local message as well as the strength of the sterling against the euro means that a lot more people are now consciously opting to shop in Donegal rather than cross the border.
“People are beginning to realise that if they shop locally then they will protect jobs locally,” she said.
Traders across the county in practically all sectors have reported that business leading up to Christmas was much better than last year with some reporting increases of up on 30%. Many are now hoping that the traditional post-Christmas sales which started on Tuesday will provide them with a strong cash injection as the New Year approaches.
Retail businesses in many parts of Donegal have also decided to absorb the 2% increase in VAT imposed by the Government in the last budget, which comes into force in the New Year, in order to remain competitive and stem the flow to cross-border centres.
Roisin Woods, Marketing Manager of McElhinney’s in Ballybofey reported an exceptional Christmas and spent the day on Tuesday “on the floor” as hundreds of bargain hunters descended on Ballybofey.
There was a similar story from Cara Pharmacies as joint Managing Director, Ramona Nicholas reported their best Christmas ever.
She said: “We have experienced an unprecedented turnaround in practically all our stores pre-Christmas and our sales has really been a tremendous success to date”.
Other stores in the South Donegal area including Magee of Donegal and Cuba have indicated that they will also be absorbing the additional VAT.
Ernan McGettigan of the Community Chamber in Donegal Town welcomed this move and said, “There was never any need for this VAT increase in the first place - it is a disincentive to customers to spend at home with the resultant loss to the exchequer.