A new survey shows that over 85% of Donegal retailers saw an increase in Christmas season trade in 2015, while over 50% intend to take on new staff in 2016. That’s according to a sample survey conducted across the county by award-winning online accountancy firm, accountantonline.ie .

“This is the second year in a row that we have run the Donegal Retail Survey,” says Larissa Feeney, owner and founder of accountantonline.ie, who are based in Letterkenny.  “Last year, 80% showed a rise in Christmas trade, and it’s great to see that up to 85% this year. Even better, almost half of retailers showed an increase of over 20% – compared to a third of respondents last year.”

“Retailers felt the main reasons behind the increase were a general improvement in the economy, and the strength of Sterling as a factor and to a lesser extent that more people were simply choosing to ‘shop local’ again.”

The survey results were welcomed by Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce, whose chief executive, Toni Forrester says they reflect the feedback they have been getting from members in the retail sector  “We are hearing of sales increases of well over 20% from many members,  increased foot fall figures and increased spend per transaction.  Retail sales figures among members had been improving during 2015 and we are already getting good reports of strong sales in January which of course gives us optimism for 2016.”

Larissa Feeney says that accountantonline.ie noticed a general increase in positivity among Donegal traders in 2015.  “They were optimistic in relation to the Christmas trading period and I am pleased to see that the survey results reflect this.”

In terms of jobs growth, Larissa says almost half of retailers (45%) said they would take on an extra 1 to 5 staff in 2016, and a further 7% said they would take on more than 5 staff this year, “which is great news for the local economy.”

“Most retailers said the increase in the minimum wage had no influence on their plans to grow staff but over 35% said they would be less likely to create new jobs, while a further 10% said they would create fewer new jobs as a result.”

“Anecdotally, we recorded a large increase in new businesses registering with Revenue and Companies Registration Office in 2015. We have also noticed an increase in employers registering new employees with Revenue, and all of this bodes well for the local economy in 2016!”

The survey was conducted amongst Donegal retailers over the last week by phone and email, with a response rate of over 10%. Further details from www.accountantonline.ie or email info@accountantonline.ie.com