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Last-minute shoppers to help make it busiest festive period in eight years


A busy Henry Street in the capital. Photo: Gareth Chaney

A busy Henry Street in the capital. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

A busy Henry Street in the capital. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Retailers are predicting the busiest festive period in eight years as shoppers rush to get the last of their Christmas presents.

Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) estimates that sales will be up 5pc compared with this time last year.

Dublin in particular has seen a boost in retail across the board - while outside the capital footfall is said to be down a little.

REI spokeswoman Lynn Drumgoole said fewer people had been hitting stores outside the capital because of the poor weather in recent weeks. But despite the drop in footfall, it isn't all bad news.

"Transaction values have increased - so while footfall may have decreased, the amount people are spending in store is quite significant," she said.

Avril Smith, manager at the Eyre Square shopping centre in Galway city, said the centre had been busy.

"We're hoping to clear 300,000 footfall for the week - that only counts adults, it doesn't count children," she said.

There were queues of up to two-and-a-half hours to see Santa in the centre.

"We expect this level of footfall to continue for the rest of the week in the lead up to Christmas," she told the Irish Independent.

An increase in people trying to buy products in Vodafone Ireland stores caused its computers to slow down over the weekend.

"Processing requests were very slow. They [staff] did try to process things manually. But our online and over-the-phone channels were working," a spokeswoman said.

In Dublin, the likes of Arnotts, Debenhams and HMV were full of people last night trying to secure last-minute Christmas gifts.

Staff members in both Arnotts and Debenhams said the beauty and cosmetic sections were particularly busy over the weekend.

Graeme McQueen, of Dublin Chamber of Commerce, attributed this to the fact that consumers had more confidence.

"Consumers have a bit of confidence back, there's a bit of money back in the pocket and they're willing to spend again.

"I think we saw this Christmas that shoppers are back out spending - not recklessly though," he said.

Mr McQueen has predicted a particularly busy week ahead for supermarkets as people traditionally leave grocery shopping for Christmas to the last minute.

Irish Independent