Throughout the boom years the two Fitzpatrick hotels in New York were a common stomping ground for Irish shoppers, but the hotelier considers those extravagant times a things of the past.
“It will never be like it was at the height of it. I don’t think we will ever have that rush that happened in the Celtic tiger,” he told the Irish Voice.
Despite Ireland’s economic woes, Fitzpatrick says Irish shoppers are eager to get value for money, and there are few better places to find it than the Big Apple.
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“I find a lot of people are buying more so for the kids. People may have to cut back but still have to buy presents,” Fitzpatrick points out. “It's all about saving and re-energizing.”
With his hotel capacity up 17% on December of last year, Fitzpatrick admits he is always delighted to see the Irish shoppers arriving.
Fitzpatrick says his staff has a tedious job cleaning out the hotel rooms after the shoppers depart, with rooms filled with empty shopping bags, shoe boxes and other evidence of their retail blitz.
“Our garbage disposal company has to take an extra delivery,” he laughs.
Despite an estimated drop in numbers, Tour America operators in Dublin point out that New York still draws the shopping crowd.
“In the run up to Christmas, New York continues to be the most popular as customers love the range of shopping outlets available and the great prices for designer brands,” Polly Bond, head of product and marketing with Tour America, told the Irish Voice.
A 30-year-old teacher living in Dublin, Líosa Breatnach, said she could not help but notice how many Irish shoppers were on her flight on the way over to New York.
“There were definitely other shoppers on the plane; in fact, I had two colleagues on the same flight as me to do just that -- shopping!” she told the Irish Voice.
“Also, there was no luggage in the overhead bins on the way over and from speaking to other passengers they had one suitcase in another suitcase.
“But on the return flight the overhead bins were jam-packed!” reveals the Dubliner, who visited New York last week.
Spending almost $1,500, Breatnach said that she found her dollar went a lot further in New York.
“I definitely found better value on brands that are popular in Ireland like Nike, Ugg, Hollister, American Eagle, and Abercrombie & Fitch,” she said.
“I think New York is so popular because it's not as expensive as it used to be to fly over. We are a very brand conscious society and so New York offers all those popular designers at relatively affordable prices
“The fact is Irish people like to shop and it's the nearest city across the pond!”
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