Spend to top €128m as 'Black Friday' fever grips nation
Irish shoppers will spend €128m today as 'Black Friday' fever grips the country in earnest for the first time.
Retailers are offering their best ever bargains for a range of products - coupled with an array of sales promotions aimed at getting an early slice of the festive spend.
So-called Black Friday and Cyber Monday, originally American traditions now gaining a foothold in Ireland, mark the start of a three week run-in to Christmas.
Retail Ireland expects this to be the best festive season for retailers in seven years, with overall sales to increase by 3.5pc on last year.
Visa Europe predicts that €98m will be spent on online purchases by the time the tills ring off on 'Cyber Monday' on December 1.
This represents an 18pc increase on the €83m spent by Irish consumers during the same period last year - making it the biggest weekend for Irish online shopping in history.
In-store and online shopping today was set to top €128m, Visa said.
Debenhams, Harvey Norman, Currys, Argos, Littlewoods and Smyths are among the many retailers with sales promotions this weekend, both online, and in high street stores.
And with the sales set to continue, the biggest sellers are electrical goods, ranging from smart TVs and washing machines, to the usual galaxy of laptops and tablets.
Irish shoppers on British sites from Amazon to Topshop are also being enticed with a variety of special discounts.
Ireland's main Christmas shopping day was traditionally December 8, but trade is now spread out over a longer period, with various promotions designed to entice spenders to part with their cash.
Thomas Burke, director of Retail Ireland, said this weekend marked the start of the "real" Christmas shopping period. "Black Friday is an increasingly important promotional window for retailers.
"Some businesses will see an increase in sales this weekend of 30pc, with reductions of over 25pc available in some outlets."
The early spending spree, however, brings forward purchasing decisions by some consumers, resulting in potentially less activity closer to Christmas, he added.
"The emergence of both Black Friday and Cyber Monday pose both a threat and an opportunity for Irish retailers.
"Retailers will have been planning this period for a number of months and have been putting contingencies in place to meet the extra consumer demand over this weekend.
"Consumers are increasingly focused on pre-Christmas value and weekends such as this mean retailers have to react to meet that consumer demand."
Shopping outlets in various population centres have also invested heavily in various marketing initiatives, plus the provision of other enticements, such as special parking initiatives to lure people.
Richard Guiney, chief executive of business group DublinTown, said today would be "crazy", with more than 600,000 shoppers expected to flood the city centre.