Rent is up to 185% higher for southern retailers…

The sound of bolts being slammed shut after the exit of prize race was audible with the news that the Oireachtas Enterprise committee is investigate the impact of cross border shopping on the Republic… But Caroline Byrne of ShelfLIfe trade magazine is adamant that the problems were obvious long before the Minister of Finance delivered the news of the growing hole in the government budget;

“This report finds that operating costs are up to 30% higher, for a comparable retail business in the Republic of Ireland, compared to in the North of the country. The government should therefore concentrate on lowering costs such as commercial rates, electricity and waste disposal in order to help put Southern retailers on a more even footing with their Northern competitors.”

“While Superquinn in Dundalk is the latest casualty of an upsurge in cross-border retailing, the writing has been on the wall now for months. In a ShelfLife exclusive survey of cross-border retailers published in our August issue, we found that 84% of border retailers had received complaints from customers about the prices they were charging, and 96% of retailers were aware of, or had been told by customers, that they were travelling over the border to shop.”

“ShelfLife also found operating costs to be significantly higher in the Republic of Ireland. Specifically; wages are 30% higher, rent is up to 185% higher, and the fact that VAT here rose to 21.5%, at a time when the UK Government was decreasing its VAT to 15.5%, only adds to Southern retailers’ woes.”

Other findings in the survey of southern retailers include:

80% are not satisfied that their wholesaler is offering them the most competitive price available

92% have brought a complaint regarding wholesale prices charged, to the attention of their symbol group’s head office

52% believe that their wholesale agreement allows them the flexibility to compete, while 48% think it is unduly restrictive

92% have travelled to the North of Ireland to check prices

92% have noticed a downturn in business

You can download our latest podcast: Calm down, it’s only an Irish recession…

, ,

  • Mack

    I agree the government should do what it can to help reduce costs. The market will help to. As retail units close down excess capacity should mean retail rents stagnate or plummet.

    The government should look at making Irish wages more competitive too. There are a couple things that could be done (if really neccessary).

    1. A portion (or all) of Employer’s PRSI could be passed onto Employees until such a time as Irish wages are competitive again.

    2. Minimum wages should be frozen, or perhaps calibrated relative to the minimum wage in competitors economies.


    I note the report cites Electrictiy costs. The average wage in the Electricity Supply Board is over €90,000. (Source : Irish Independent)
    Surely the ESB could be run more efficiently? If retailers are complaining of costs, and workers are awarding themselves an additional 3.5% pay rise!

  • missfitz

    Oh PLEASE, do not get me started on cross border shopping. My hair is now 14 feet long as I haven’t been able to park in Newry for about 6 months to go to my hairdresser.

    Shoppers from the South seem to only buy vodka, crisps and onion rings, so I suspect they are planning a hell of a party down there to mark the demise of the tiger.

    Living in a border town at the moment is sheer hell, and all its doing is forcing shoppers further up north. Soon I’ll be doing the weekly groceries in Ballycastle.

    I always try to be reasonable when I make comments, but southern shoppers tend to be rude, agressive, greedy, nasty and completely ill-mannered. They are showing themselves up in a big way and doing their reputation no favours.

  • Mack


    Ahem. Shoppers (no qualification) “tend to be rude, aggressive, greedy, nasty and completely ill-mannered” when they have to queue for an hour for a parking space especially if that is after queueing for an hour to get into the town in the first place, having driven for an hour and half with screaming kids before that.

    Anyway, can’t you walk ;-0

  • Dave

    On the other hand, we could put the border back in place and man it with just two custom officers (providing a fast lane for commercial traffic), thereby providing a 3 or 4 hour tailback to deter ‘unpatriotic’ shoppers from boosting Her Majesty’s Chancellor of the Exchequer at the direct expense of the Irish economy. But that would require a political class who put the Irish national interest first.

  • miss fitz

    While I enjoy the odd bit of a walk, a 10 mile trek to buy my groceries is out of the question. A better suggestion would be for those people frmo Cork, Kerry, Wicklow and god help us Dundalk that shop in Newry try to spend their sheckels on their own side of the border.

    On a more serious note, I have always tried to spend as much money in our local shops as I do in the big stores, but there are certain lxury items that are best bought in those shops.

    No, the situation is pretty grim and I often dream of customs officers Dave

  • Mack


    10 miles? Sure, Dundalk is almost closer than that! You never spent your sheckels in Lacey’s then?

    There is plenty of parking, if you go off the beaten track slightly. Just don’t start a trend..

  • miss fitz

    I live in Rostrevor and I have never darkened the doors of Lacey’s.

    The problem of parking in Newry as a result of the unprecedented level of traffic influx from the RoI is a very big issue here at the moment and one that exercises the locals on a daily basis.

  • Nomad


    Isn’t one of your collegues, Michael Taft, arguing that Ireland is a low wage country?

    I understand this is a result of higher costs, exchange rates etc, but it seems like a mixed message on Slugger. Can anyone clear it up for me?

  • wild turkey

    ‘but southern shoppers tend to be rude, agressive, greedy, nasty and completely ill-mannered. ‘

    howyadoin ms fitz.

    on the basis of the behavioural characteristics you list, just how are you able to differentiate between northern and southern shoppers? accents perhaps? just curious really.

    Like yourself I always try to be reasonable when I make comments.

    good luck

  • Mack

    Nomad –

    From looking at his website, Michael seems to be quoting union statistics to make his argument.

    I read a post on an Irish left wing blog lately that said Irish public sector workers were the worst paid in Europe after Greece. I stopped reading right then…

    It seems you can attempt to prove anything with statistics. Certainly those working in construction or property related industries were earning amounts that would make anyone blush.

    Employers are relatively lightly taxed in Ireland. So if you look at the wage cost to employers Ireland is about mid-table in the Eurozone. Employees get a nominal pay cheque that is the second highest after Luxembourg, and get to keep more of it after personal taxes than most other European countries.

    This isn’t neccesarily a bad thing in itself, or unsustainable. We send over 50% of our young to college. We attract the best and brightest from across Europe to work in Ireland. In years gone by – we suffered a brain drain. We paid to educate our young to boost other countries productivity.

  • Mick Fealty

    Are we supposed to be transmitting ‘messages’ on this? Other than that, I’m not sure I understand what you mean by the rest of your post.

  • Nomad

    Thanks, Mack. I thought it very odd/wrong.

  • miss fitz

    I’d say I have one post left before I get the boot, but here goes….

    Wild Turkey.. Shoppers from the North of Ireland are dainty, discreet and discerning. We epitomise good manners and breeding, and when you see us delicately out in finer establishments purchasing well chosen items, you will barely hear a whisper.

    Unlike our brethern from below, whose race to buy booze while bellowing furiously across Sainsbury’s is bothersome to say the least

  • dunreavynomore


    apart from the hair i have all your problems. i go to an old style barber in dundalk for the haircut so that’s o.k. i get my main groceries in hunters of markethill now instead of sainsburys and i had never shopped in markethill before in my life so it’s an ill wind and all that stuff…

  • Nomad


    Are we supposed to be transmitting ‘messages’ on this? Other than that, I’m not sure I understand what you mean by the rest of your post.

    I wouldn’t like to suggest what you’re supposed to do. This is your blog. I’m simply trying to understand a complex system. I always like the inclusivity of your platform here but with something which seems pretty factual like wage comparisons I don’t ‘get’ the promotion of what appears to be incorrect data without commentary indicating same..

    The ‘message’ I seem to be confusing you with is when you quoted Taft’s blog on this topic of ‘Irish’ wages a couple of weeks ago.

    At the end of the day though, what does this blog do if not transmit messages, information, curiousity and debate as here….? I suspect you took my post more personally than intended.

    Always appreciate the overall service you provide though.

  • Mack

    Miss Fitz – Ah, you’re pretty much stuck then. Unless you can shop further north (Kilkeel, Newcastle?).

    Incidentally, the unprecedented level of traffic has been facilitated by the extension of the M1 motorway to Newry. Paid for by the Irish government. We’re (Irish (Republic) tax payers) building you a bridge soon too, so maybe you can destress in Carlingford on a Saturday afternoon and get your hair cut there instead.

    It’s mad though, you really can’t please people.. Here we are funding jobs and providing world-class transport facilities and the nucks are giving out about it all!!!

    (When really we should be giving out about the lack of car parking!) Goddam mexicans, coming up here, paying us money!

    Seriously though, the problem will dissipate when they finish the Northern dual carriage-way extension (or when Sterling stabilises for a while) – to the detriment of the town / city.

  • iluvni

    Have the prices in Dublin’s hotels, pubs and restaurants dropped yet to take account of the death of the tiger…or is it still as dear a hole as it was in October?

  • Mack


    It may be more expensive for you, as your currency has collapsed. On the brightside, if you think it’s a “hole” you want to come anyway.

    Hotels are offering very cheap deals. D4 hotel in Ballsbridge had rooms for €20, there was a hotel in Newlands cross offering €10.

  • Mack

    Should have read, you won’t want to come anyway

  • Mick Fealty


    Sorry if I came across as a bit nippy. I don’t always remember every detail I’ve blogged without detailed prompt. Linkbacks are always very useful.




    Beeehave yourself!

  • pacman

    Aren’t there any hairdressers in Rostrevor, Miss Fitz?

    As a Newry man, I don’t have any issues with southern shoppers. Sure it’s harder to get parked and there are definite traffic snarl-ups, but if you’re prepared to walk a bit then there are plenty of places to get parked reasonably close to where you want to go. The Quays and the Buttercrane are a bit of a disaster granted but it doesn’t take much to put your head down and bomb on through the throng to do your shopping.

    Personally, I’ve changed my shopping habits insofar as either getting there early or getting there late depending on the day and this helps to avoid most of the busiest times. I rarely bother with Sainsburys preferring either Dunnes or Lidl and I haven’t noticed any significant change in either of these two.

    As for manners, I see little difference to be honest with locals or southerners. I’m liable to bite the head of either if they try to mow me down with a trolley.

  • iluvni

    What’s with all the being offended?
    I thought Dublin was a dear hole in October. (I think Belfast is a dirty hole if that makes you feel better!). Its a serious question!

    Are the prices in Dublin dropping at all?
    The D4 hotels I am checking for my next cross-border venture are up €20 a night!

  • Mack


    They’ve been running offers rather than reducing standard rates in the city itself – give them a call and ask.

  • Nomad

    I stayed in a decent enough place in Temple Bar the night before NYE for €45 if it helps.. is good too.

  • Modernist

    I was listening to newstalk’s breakfast show this morning in Dublin . I couldn’t believe the cheek of Mary Hannafin stating that shopping in Newry would be more difficult for southerners as the trolleys wouldn’t accept euro coins. FF kite flying crap at its best. I thought all the trolleys take both currencies and don’t the parking meters and payphones accept euro coins aswell.

    Miss Fitz as a southerner I find your comments rude and offensive. Maybe if the old Stormant exec had bothered to build proper road infrastrure to Dundalk when they had the chance 40 odd years ago there wouldnt be this problem. Get on to your local MLA and get then to do something about the inadequate infrastructure would be what I would do if I was peeved with the current situation

  • missfitz

    As a southerner myself, I find these people who come north for their shopping rather offensive as well as rude.

    Its interesting for me as a supplanted person to comment and observe the shenanigans, and hope to avoid being pigeon holed by anyone.

    Good girl Mary Hanafin,. Its not true, but perhaps some of those south of the border might believe her

  • Dave

    MissFitz, of course they’re ill-mannered and ill-bred… have you ever met a bargain hunter who wasn’t of that boorish ‘me, me, me’ ilk? As Mick’s Blog shows, they are putting their own selfish interest before the interest of their own community without grapsing that their own selfish interest is best served by serving their own community, so, by definition, these are not reasonable or community-minded folks. Unpatriotic louts. 😉

  • NP

    Miss Fitz can you not go to Ginger Snips in Warrenpoint ?

  • foreign correspondent

    When petrol was much cheaper in the Republic us Derry wans flocked over to fill up. Anyone who tried to tell us we were being unpatriotic would have been laughed out of court. The same should apply now that things are going the other way. Whether or not you believe that Ireland is one country, both parts of the island were within the EU last time I looked. ´Free movement of goods and people´ ring any bells?