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Traders dreaming of a ‘White Reg Christmas’

Business leaders in Newry are hoping for a ‘white reg’ Christmas this year – with early indications of an influx of southern shoppers looking positive. The Republic’s Bank Holiday weekend (October 25-28) saw thousands of additional visiting shoppers easily recognisable because of their white rear number plates, pack the city and boost the local economy in the process. Speaking to the Reporter Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade chief executive Orla Jackson said she believed the boost could last throughout the traditional shopping period. “There has always been a good percentage of southern shoppers – about 25 per cent of the total,” Ms Jackson said. “However I spoke to a number of retailers and they have noticed an increase in southern trade over the last number of weeks and Bank Holiday weekends in particular – it is great for Newry. Many car parks are full throughout the weekend with more southern reg cars.” The reason for the upswing according to Ms Jackson is an upswing in consumer confidence coupled with price differential on many key products. “There is more confidence from southern shoppers at the minute after coming out from the bailout and they are still finding value in Newry. There is a price differential on baby food, confectionary, electronics, cleaning products and alcohol among other things. We are hopeful for a good Christmas.” A further reason for the upswing could be down to the exchange rates. On November 1 2012 one Euro was worth 80.327p. On October 29 2013 this had risen to 85.536p. This means that shoppers coming to Newry from the South can expect to have nearly 6.5 per cent more buying power than they did at this time last year. It is also hoped that the upcoming Winter Wonderland event at the Albert Basin (Dec 7 – Jan 5) will attract thousands of additional shoppers from both north and south to the city in the run up to Christmas. Meanwhile for those travelling in the opposite direction Mayor Mickey Ruane has said that the National Roads Authority and the Celtic Roads Group will be invited to the next meeting of the Newry/ Louth joint committee to request that sterling be accepted on the M1 Toll Plaza. “This is a real issue for people living along the border who are forced to constantly deal with two currencies,” he said. “In the scheme of things I know that there are more weighty matters to be discussed but I think that it would make a lot of sense to accept both Euro and Sterling.”


Newry Reporter

30th October 2013