Retailers set for sales rise despite decline in traditional shopping day
Retailers expect to do brisk business today, despite the waning popularity of what was traditionally one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
The growth of Black Friday and Cyber Monday means that Christmas shopping has already started.
But December 8 continues to be a lively day when people from the four corners of Ireland come to Dublin to meet Santa, see the lights and buy Christmas presents, retailers said.
The Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception is not as big a spending day as in previous years, but still brings thousands of shoppers into the capital, director of Retail Ireland Thomas Burke said.
"The big driver used to be that the schools had a day off. Many schools don't close now. That means it is less busy. It's hard to put figures on it, but it is still a big shopping day," he said.
Dublin Chamber of Commerce said older people still regard December 8 as a big shopping day, but the popularity of it has been overtaken by online shopping for younger shoppers.
Sales in shops are set for record levels after years of the retail sector being in the doldrums.
And shoppers getting ready for Christmas are set to reap the rewards of continued discounting by retailers.
Prices are falling in most areas of retail, with the exception of bars and newsagents, a report on the retail by estate agency group Savills shows.
In an analysis of Central Statistics Office data, economist with estate agency Savills, John McCartney found prices are falling in almost every area of retail.
Retailers were gaining from lower overheads, falling commodity prices and efficiency gains, and were passing on their lower costs to consumers, Dr McCartney found.
"The fact that they have had to pass these gains on to the consumers confirms just how competitive the retail sector remains," he said.
Bars and newsagents are the only categories in retail that have seen sales and price increase.
Dr McCartney said that although prices are still falling, discounting is beginning to ease in many sectors.
Those selling electrical goods, furniture and fashion retailers are having to cut prices much less steeply than a year ago to drive sales. This may suggest a gradual return of pricing power to retailers as the economy strengthens, he said.
According to Savills, the positive outlook for the retail sector has led to a broadly-based increase in the demand for retail space. This is reflected in the fact that both international and indigenous operators - including Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, Joules and Jigsaw - have taken retail spaces since the start of this year.
Meanwhile, a separate report shows that householders are set to spend €543m on food this festive season.
This is up €34m from last year, according to research conducted by electronic commerce company Webloyalty.
Half of consumers will spend more than €150 on festive food this Christmas. The majority still prefer to buy all their food in a shop rather than online.
Grocery giant Tesco will once again have the highest footfall of all food retailers as a quarter of respondents indicate they plan to do their Christmas shopping in its stores.
High-end grocer Marks and Spencer will see an uplift in sales with a fifth of consumers saying they plan to shop there, up slightly from last year.
Lower numbers indicate a preference for shopping in German grocer chains Aldi and Lidl.