\"Shoppers

Shoppers in Macy's department store Photo by: Molly Muldoon

Irish big spenders still flock to shop in New York City

\"Shoppers

Shoppers in Macy's department store Photo by: Molly Muldoon

It's easy to spot the Irish shoppers on a Monday afternoon at Macy's in Herald Square. 

The Irish women are casual. They don’t strut, they stroll, and they seem almost at peace in the world’s largest department store.

On the second floor sifting through rails of decorative tops last week, I find a Cork mother and daughter who look like they are on a mission. As they take a brief respite from their retail therapy to chat with the Irish Voice, they tell me they have maintained their New York shopping pilgrimage for over a decade.

“We’re coming for the last 10 years,” Geraldine Ahern says as she looks at her daughter and smiles. 

“We are out here this time for nine days,” she told the Irish Voice. “We just love the buzz.”

Despite Ireland’s economic downturn, the Cork mother says they normally bring the same amount of spending money each year. This year they have $3,000 each, and they both nod their heads in agreement that they won’t rest until their wallets are down to the lining.

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“We spend 98 to 99 percent of it,” Geraldine admits. 

On the wish list this year are jeans, shoes, cosmetics and clothes for the men back at home.

“We’ve done Woodbury Commons, Jersey Gardens, Fifth Avenue,” she reveals. “We’ve done everywhere really. The menswear here is just for nothing.” 

Her daughter, Georgine, interjects, admitting she’s already hit up some of her favorite American stores.

“Abercrombie & Fitch, you cannot get it back at home,” she points out.

The savings, the ladies insist, are phenomenal. Holding three t-shirts, Georgine says she has already stocked up on all her favorite make-up brands and is delighted with her new Benefit eyeliner which cost her $20.

“At home it’s €36,” she revealed.

“It’s crazy,” says Geraldine, who adds that the attention sales people give here is a big plus.

“They dance attendance on you,” the mother laughs.

“They do everything for you, nothing is a problem. Back home you’re fighting the crowds. You go in and they just totally ignore you in the shops. I know they have targets to reach here, and they’re a lot more attentive.”

Upstairs in Macy's, Siobhan O’Sullivan looks content among the evening wear as she surveys the colors of the season.

“It’s a lot cheaper, but it’s very different from shopping at home,” O’Sullivan, who is on vacation with her boyfriend, told the Irish Voice.

With her male companion nowhere in sight, she reveals they have already hit the jewelry section downstairs. But first they stopped off at the visitor section of the department store to pick up their 10% discount visitor card.

“I wanted a piece of jewelry, a locket, as a birthday present,” said O’Sullivan, adding that her boyfriend prefers to shop in the U.S.

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“He likes shopping in America more so than at home. He doesn’t shop much at home, then he comes over here and spends a good bit and doesn’t shop again.”

In an unusual serene section of knitwear on the fourth floor, I spot three ladies already clutching Macy's shopping bags.

Joan and Marie Liston and Mary O’Callaghan say that although shopping was not the only reason for their week-long visit to New York, it was an important element.

The two sisters and a daughter from Limerick told the Irish Voice they have found especially good value in jeans and shoes.

“The shopping has been fantastic,” Mary said.

When Irish women wheel their empty suitcases into John Fitzpatrick’s hotels in Manhattan around this time of year, he knows they are on a shopping mission.

“It’s beginning,” says the CEO of the Fitzpatrick Hotel Group, North America, referring to the annual tide of Irish shoppers who flock to New York for the pre-holiday season.

“I met a few of them last Friday. A lady said she bought a pair of UGGs for $87 and she told me they are €250 back home.”

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