Over on the IoD’s NIcrunchtalk site, the ever-observant Brian Walker has spotted that the story of Newry’s shopping boom in has made it into the New York Times.
The article in the NY Times notes that: “It seems the only ones complaining about the cross-border trade are senior political officials in the economically strapped south, who are bemoaning the loss of sales tax revenues and questioning the “patriotism” of the bargain hunters.”
This comes as the euro reached an all-time high of 95 pence sterling yesterday evening, meaning that the currency in the south is nearly equal in value to that of the north. Taking into account the already lower prices in the north, compounded by the recent drop in UK VAT, it’s clear why shopping centres such as the Quays and the Buttercrane have been packed in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, Eamon Quinn, who penned the NY Times article, also had a piece in the Sunday Tribune a couple of weeks ago in which he quoted Quays shopping centre owner Gerard O’Hare as predicting that Tesco or Asda would soon be arriving in Newry, perhaps on the site of my old Alma Mater, and that he would be spending €250m on doubling the current 500,000 square-foot Quays from 2010.
Of course, as residents of Newry will know all too well, the city’s roads and streets simply aren’t fit to cope with the current traffic levels, so ensuring that these proposed developments are well spread-out across the Frontier Town will be vital, not least to ensure that all parts of Newry benefit from the retail boom.
The global economic turbulence could perhaps lead to southern shoppers being joined by American bargain-hunters as well. As the euro strengthens against the pound, so does the dollar, which is now worth over 66p. Brian asks: “Might this start a whole new trend of American heritage shoppers coming over for a last minute quick Christmas raid instead of our now unaffordable Christmas shopping trip to the Big Apple?” Only time will tell. My advice would be to stock-up on your Carlsberg from Sainsbury’s now before Chuck from the Bronx arrives to clear the aisles!