Northern Ireland

Some NI shops out of Euros over increase in demand

Euro banknotes and coins background Image copyright HJBC

A Post Office in Belfast city centre was temporarily out of Euros and US dollars due to an increase in demand.

Staff at the Bridge Street branch said more favourable rates had led to the shortage.

Debenhams in Castlecourt, which also offers a currency exchange service, displayed a sign on Monday stating the store had no Euros.

The Post Office said the situation had been "temporary" and new stock has been delivered.

Sterling is close to its highest level against the euro since the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum.

For those enjoying a European getaway during mid-term this will be seen as a welcome boost.

Richard Ramsey, Ulster Bank's Chief Economist

They say a week is a long time in politics. It is also a long time in foreign-exchange markets.

Last week saw sterling make significant gains against the euro on the currency markets.

The pound started last week sub-€1.18 before ending the week about €1.205.

Sterling is now trading at levels against the euro last seen in late-June 2016 (the week after the EU Referendum).

In the space of a week a euro has gone from almost 85p to 83p.

Last week the change of Chancellor helped fuel speculation that the UK economy was set to embark upon a notable fiscal stimulus.

The boost that this would provide to the UK economy helped push sterling higher. However, euro weakness is also a major factor at play here.

Concerns over the Eurozone's economic outlook are increasingly weighing on sentiment towards the euro.

The euro is trading at multi-year lows against the US dollar.

Sterling's performance has been less impressive against the US dollar.

The pound is currently changing hands at $1.30 which is up around one cent over the last week or so. This compares with $1.33 as recently as the end of January.

The value of the pound improved initially after Rishi Sunak was announced as the new chancellor.

The pound is fetching €1.20 on the currency markets and more than €1.17 in bureaux de change.

Against the dollar the pound is trading at $1.30.

Staff at another high street store in Belfast, which did have Euros and dollars in stock, said people had been coming in to get currency for their summer holidays.

Image caption A sign in Debenhams in Belfast displayed on Monday morning

A Post Office spokeswoman said: "Current Post Office exchange rates for Euros proved very popular with customers and regrettably our stock temporarily ran out at our Belfast City branch for a short period.

"The situation has been quickly resolved with new stock delivered today.

"We apologise for any inconvenience caused by running out of Euros on Saturday afternoon and we offered customers the opportunity to pre-order their Euro currency with guaranteed delivery to the branch today.

"There has been a surge in currency purchases due to the exchange rate being the best that it has been for some time and the competitive Post Office exchange rate also coincided with the start of the February half-term holiday."

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