RETAILERS are expecting the Christmas rush to start in earnest this weekend now that the dreaded Budget is finally out of the way.
Shoppers will splash almost €50m today as sales rocket up 60pc on the average day – dispelling retailers' festive gloom.
Stores expect sales to hold steady on last year despite a tough economic climate, because consumer confidence is growing slightly.
Shop owners remain broadly positive in the run-up to Christmas despite warning about a likely increase in cross-border shopping after hikes in the price of alcohol.
And more than four-fifths of Irish shoppers will do at least some of their shopping online, a new survey has found.
The report by Carat Ireland found that 82pc of consumers will do part of their shopping over the internet, citing the cost savings and convenience.
On average, men will spend a maximum average of €194 on the web this Christmas while women will blow up to €143.
Almost half of those surveyed planned to use the web to buy items worth €10 or less.
Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which was traditionally the major shopping day of the year when crowds flocked to the capital.
While that tradition has faded in recent years, the fact it falls on a Saturday means retailers are expecting a hectic day.
Retail Excellence Ireland said people had been holding back because of anxiety about what was in store, but would now feel more confident.
"So many kites were flown in advance that it may not have been as bad as people were expecting," said REI chief executive David Fitzsimons.
Shopping locally and buying Irish would have enormous benefits for the economy, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association said.
"Every €10 spent locally on Irish products generates €24 of benefit to the local community – 45c of every euro spent is reinvested locally in comparison to only 15c for the foreign multiples," said ISME chief executive Mark Fielding.
This was because local shops used local services as well as employing local people.