THEY say the early bird catches the worm -- or in this case a Vivienne Westwood handbag and a whopping 65-inch, flat-screen TV.
This time around the weather was a tad kinder to those shoppers who endured an overnight wait to nab the big ticket items as department stores flung open their doors this morning.
The 'first come, first served' policy for the dramatically slashed items such as washing machines, plasma TVs and designer handbags was enough to ensure an orderly queue was forming outside some of the shops as other families were just finishing up their Christmas dinners.
A small group of shoppers gathered outside Clerys department store in Dublin city centre yesterday, hoping to pick up the best bargains when doors open at 9am this morning.
Those at the top of the queue will be given special deals -- a Sleep Spa bed retailing at €1,999 for €1 or a 32-inch LCD TV worth €349.99 for €99.
Eva Lkhe, who lives in nearby Parnell Street, was queuing on the O'Connell Street pavement with two friends from 10.30am yesterday morning.
Thousands were expected to flock back to the stores today after a one-day respite as retailers made no secret of the massive discounts and volume of quality stock on offer in this year's post-Christmas sale.
David Fitzsimons, chief executive of Retail Excellence Ireland, said prices were the lowest they have ever been to entice shoppers to spend.
"Customers have never had it better as retail prices crash for the sales period," Mr Fitzsimons said, adding there were plenty of bargains in boots and winter woolies due to the mild weather.
"The weather has been so inclement there has been significant overstocking. Everyone just has a lot of stock available and they want to clear it to get their new stock in," Mr Fitzsimons said.
"The general trend in fashion purchasing is people have become far more functional shoppers rather than fashion purchasers."
He reported heavy pre-Christmas sales in items such as iPads, iPhone 4S and computers. Many of the bigger stores were hoping to nab the 'early birds' with Arnotts, Brown Thomas Dublin and Clerys opening at 9am sharp; while Next was planning its traditional 6am start and fashion giant River Island was opening at 8am in Dundrum Town Centre, with the rest of the stores in the centre expected to open at 10am. The Brown Thomas sales in Cork, Limerick and Galway were also due to start at 10am
A 70pc-off handbag sale and 50pc off across the remaining fashions in Arnotts were expected to be enough to have most shoppers hooked.
Some of the big-ticket items include a Vivienne Westwood Red leather bag reduced from €585 to €175 and a Siemens triple 'A' rated washing machine dropped from €949 to €549.99.
Both Dundrum and the St Stephen's Green shopping centre opened their doors for sales on December 26 for the first time last year.
This time, in Dundrum, House of Fraser is offering 50pc off most items; while Carraig Donn is offering 70pc off on many items and Awear has a 50pc-off sale.