IRISH brides-to-be are now starting to shop for and hold their weddings in Northern Ireland, in an effort to cut costs on the big day.

In the latest blow for the Irish retail sector, Belfast discount mall, The Outlet, has reported a surge of 43% in wedding-related sales to customers from the south, while hotel and venue Slieve Donard in Co Down recently hosted three weddings for couples from the republic.

Christine Watson, marketing manager of The Outlet, says southern Irish couples are now availing of big discounts on wedding clothes, jewellery, and gifts.

"We are seeing a huge amount of customers coming from the south of Ireland to buy gifts for weddings, such as Waterford Crystal items, at a much cheaper price, and then we have grooms coming and buying their suits for the day.

"There are now couples shopping for every different aspect of their wedding and all our retailers have independently noted a huge increase in wedding sales."

Watson recently conducted research which shows that 80% of customers to the centre are now coming from the south.

Moreover, southern Irish customers spend 78% more than their Northern Irish counterparts when they cross the border to avail of lower Vat rates and cheaper prices.

"We recently saw a group of women who hired a bus and came up from Mayo armed with huge suitcases. They filled them up, put them in the bus and came back in to continue shopping," said Watson.

"The influx of shoppers from the south is huge, and now in the run-up to Christmas, Northern Irish outlets are expecting two out of three of their customers to be from the republic.

"Our own local customers are still our bread and butter and our lifeline, but the increase is helping businesses here excel.

"These are shoppers who do not want to sacrifice the quality brands they previously bought, but are coming across the border to cut their costs in a big way. We now have a target market of all of Ireland, not just our own Northern Irish customers anymore," Watson said.

A spokeswoman for the Slieve Donard hotel said the recent three weddings they held for couples from the republic is due to "value for money and the uniqueness of the venue".


Ecco Men's Black Leather Shoe £80 (€89)

Jeff Banks Navy Suit Jacket £94 (€105)

Armani georgette black and white dress £239.50 (€267.95)

Clarissa Double Bed Duvet Cover £50 (€55.95)

DG Bath Towel £10.40 (€11.60)