The recession has been hitting retailers hard. While the shops are often full of browsing ladies like me who have more time than money, the reality is that footfall doesn't necessarily equal profit. Not surprisingly, more of us have been flocking North to shop and with Christmas on the way that number is set to surge higher.
Recent figures show that the number of households heading up the North has increased by 25% and while some may argue that it is disloyal to our local retailers, unfortunately many people simply don't have a choice - the lure of cheaper goods is too attractive for struggling families. While I do think that we should support locally when we can, and I do, I have no qualms with crossing the border in order to save big money.
I headed up there myself last Thursday, availing of Iarnrod Eireann's €10euro mid week special.
For me it is the cheapest option of all - with my dad working there, I get accommodation in his apartment, a lift back to Dublin on Saturday as well as taking advantage of some quality father/daughter time, which sometimes leads to free clothes if I'm lucky.
My dad isn't one for wasting money, and since we were old enough to work, we paid our own way. He seems to have softened with age though, along with developing a love for shopping! He has been seduced by the Belfast high street and often picks up little bargains for myself and my mam.
For example, a while back I spotted my perfect winter coat, but with a €40 difference from the UK price mocking me from the tag, I emailed the details to my dad to be met with point blank refusal. I wasn't surprised; sure he hadn't bought me a coat since I was forced into my school gabardine. However a few days later, while caught in a shower, he took shelter in the very shop in Belfast. Seeing the coat with his own eyes, and having been charmed by the lovely shop assistant, he agreed to buy it as an actual gift, a once off for his struggling recessionista!
Of course I’d visit him wherever he worked, the Belfast bargains are just a bonus to my trips. Last week I arrived with my mother’s long list of goods needed for the festive season and with me helping him beat the Southern crowds and get all the Christmas shopping done in one weekend – I reckon he got the biggest bargain of