Sales keep tills ringing in wake of Black Friday
Many Christmas shoppers will feel that stores have been in sale mode for weeks now, right back to Black Friday in November. And they are right.
Gone are the days when the retailers held onto their full price stock until after stores closed on Christmas Eve and then unleashed their bargains on St Stephen's Day or later.
It has all changed due to the arrival of the American discount phenomenon hinging on the Thanksgiving weekend.
This year, many Irish retailers were forced to pick up the Black Friday baton from their online competitors, but they never actually got to put prices back up, in order to bring them down again for the ubiquitous Christmas sales.
"Some Irish retailers were bounced into doing Black Friday this year because of what was happening online - but online competitors don't have the same overheads," says retail consultant Eddie Shanahan.
"Some retailers have been on sale for the past 12 months and there is plenty of evidence of that," he says.
Retail Excellence Ireland is confidently predicting that stores will enjoy their best Christmas in at least eight years, with trade up 3pc to 5pc.
However, it acknowledges that a large chunk of shopping is being done in Dublin, with regional towns lagging behind. It also noted a dramatic shift towards online sales this year, and Black Friday - combined with bad weather - meant shops have been quiet for the past two weeks.
"But with many workers getting paid this weekend and the mindset of most being that there's still a full week of shopping left, this week will experience peak demand," it said.
Early Christmas discounting has been the trend for the last five or six years here in Ireland, said Mr Shanahan.
But he predicts this could be the last year of it, as the economy turns around for the better and people are more confident.
"The new word is experience and stores will replace the slash and burn sales tactics so that customers have the experience of buying goods in an engaging atmosphere - it will not be about the discounting, " he said.
"If retailers are selling with 50pc off the recommended retail prices, it is unlikely that they are making money and if they are selling at 70pc off, they are losing money."
Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) also reported that stores will be rethinking the Black Friday push next year. "The gains experienced over that [Black Friday] weekend were offset with a very sluggish two week period before and after.
"Next week will make or break 2015 for many retailers," predicted the REI.