SHOPPERS are set to splurge around €500m over the next few days as they make up for shopping time lost to bad weather in the last week.
Retail Excellence Ireland said that this would be the busiest shopping weekend of the year, with "unprecedented" sales activity enticing consumers to spend.
Huge discounts of 40pc in some outlets, as well as huge supermarket price slashing meant a combination of Christmas and early winter sales spending, said REI chief executive David Fitzsimons.
"People have just been paid, social welfare payments have just gone in and there's great value out there, so we should be looking at spending of half a billion euro between now and Christmas," he said.
The four-day run-in to Christmas should also help deliver a final boost to shop coffers, as currently retailers were down 3pc on this time last year.
Last weekend proved to be a washout for many retailers due to the bad weather.
But the outlook for the east coast in particular is better for this weekend and people can't put gift shopping off any longer, Mr Fitzsimons said. Many stores, such as House of Fraser, have been offering discounts of 40pc so it was difficult to see what they would do for the traditional post-Christmas sales, he said.
But the discounts would tempt many shoppers to buy items for themselves over coming days, he predicted.
Clerys in Dublin also has discounts of up to 50pc throughout its entire store with bargains such as a Donna Hay Royal Doulton delph set down from €100 to €50, and the price of an Earl leather corner sofa cut from €1,999 to €1,299.
The store's Lifesize One Direction cardboard cutouts, costing €22.50, were popular with Christmas shoppers although a sign warned that the Niall Horan cutout had "sold out".
Arnotts had discounts of up to 60pc in Gap, and 30pc off partywear in Topshop yesterday. Debenhams had slashed 20 to 50pc off selected items, from handbags to fragrances and razors; while Clarks shoeshops have started their sale with reductions of up to 50pc.
The queues were 30-deep at Eason's flagship store in Dublin's O'Connell St where shoppers were snapping up 'three for two' book offers.
The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) made a final appeal to consumers to "shop for Ireland" over the next few days by buying Irish wherever possible.
"If every consumer switched just one-10th of their 'imported' shopping to Irish produced goods, it would shift the balance in favour of local producers, manufacturers and retailers and go a long way to sustaining Irish jobs, after what has been a very difficult few years," said ISME chief executive Mark Fielding.
While foreign corporate chains have the big advertising power, local business played a huge role in keeping money circulating close to home, he said.
And although it's now too late to make online purchases for delivery pre-Christmas, the online shopping market has already reached a record €4.6bn worth of sales in 2013, according to new figures from eTail Excellence Ireland which represent Irish virtual retailers.
Online sales are growing faster in Ireland than anywhere else in Europe with a 25pc increase this year, it said.