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More Christmas shoppers heading out-of-state - Fewer going to Northern Ireland

IT could be reminiscent of the Celtic Tiger days. Research by AA indicates that a quarter of Irish households plan to travel outside the State to do some pre-Christmas shopping with thousands planning to travel to U.S. hotspots.
Lesser numbers, however, will be crossing the border, and out of the 6,000 of its customers surveyed only 9% indicated an interest in travelling north with a growing spread in planned excursions to Britain, continental Europe and the United States.
A likely factor in shifting shopping patterns is the relative strength of the Irish economy and the revival of the British pound, which this week reached a 2 1/2-year high of €1.19 – seven cents more than a year ago. Some 9.17pc said they planned to cross the Border to shop, down from 10.8pc at this time last year.
Around 4.3pc plan a pre-Christmas trip to Britain, similar to last year’s levels, while 3.8pc are heading to the continent, including to the Christmas markets of central Europe, up from 3.4pc in 2018.
In total, 26.7pc plan a pre-Christmas foreign trip, including increased interest in weekend shopping in New York and other US cities, a phenomenon associated with the final years of the Celtic Tiger.
Aer Lingus last weekend reported 10pc growth on numbers travelling to New York in the run-up to Christmas. The airline says it will be carrying 110,000 passengers to all US destinations in the first two weeks of this month alone, 20pc higher than in 2018. The transatlantic growth includes new traffic on its service launched in July to Minneapolis, home to the Mall of America. It has more than 500 stores, the most of any US shopping centre - though that rank could be rivalled soon by the American Dream mall just opening in the New York suburb of East Rutherford, New Jersey.
As to what’s on their shopping lists, the AA survey found that some 56pc are seeking clothes, 35pc perfume and make-up, around 33pc each on groceries and alcoholic drinks, 18.6pc electrical goods, and 14.6pc consumer electronics also appearing on most lists.
Meanwhile, AA consumer affairs director Conor Faughnan cautioned cross-Border shoppers to “load any items you’re bringing home into the boot correctly and safely to avoid any accidents being caused by uneven weight distribution”.