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Happy shoppers will spend €6bn in festive spree

Christmas figures unlikely to make up for lost lockdown sales

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'Economist Jim Power said the traditional Christmas surge is not happening in-store to the same extent this year because of online sales.' (stock image)

'Economist Jim Power said the traditional Christmas surge is not happening in-store to the same extent this year because of online sales.' (stock image)

'Economist Jim Power said the traditional Christmas surge is not happening in-store to the same extent this year because of online sales.' (stock image)

Shoppers will spend up to €6bn in Irish stores this month as customers return in growing numbers to the nation's shops.

Since the public have been allowed to resume their Christmas shopping with the return of Level 3, customers are returning to the aisles of non-essential stores.

But an expected surge in customer numbers is not expected to peak until next Friday.

"We're still trading with a county boundary lockdown so things are really only going to open up on December 18 when people can cross county boundaries," said Duncan Graham, managing director of Retail Excellence, the organisation representing 2,200 retailers.

"It's not going to be until the final week that we can expect a Christmas rush but it will be a controlled rush," he said.

Mr Graham said shops have not been crowded so far as they are being well managed and people have been "very compliant" with the health advice during the pandemic.

He said spending with retailers in Ireland each December hits €6bn and this December looks like it will again hit €6bn "there or thereabouts" when online sales are included.

"People are tending not to come 'en masse' to do their shopping. Whole families are not doing their shopping together.

"People are coming individually and spending less time as they are clear about what they want rather than browsing as they would have done in previous years," he said.

He said retailers usually make 70pc of their annual profits in the last three months of the year but the sales figures this December will not make up for the closure of non-essential stores in the second half of October and November.

Economist Jim Power said the traditional Christmas surge is not happening in-store to the same extent this year because of online sales.

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The value of non-essential retail stores is €27bn a year and 70pc of that is normally done from October to December and in the January sales. The Covid-19 closures of non-essential shops during such an important period may have inflicted "permanent damage" to the sector, he said.

The in-store sector has been under continued pressure from online business.

Many shoppers did their Christmas shopping online in November during the closure and, as a result, shops will not be getting the surge they might have hoped for, the economist said.

However, there is still a lot of pent-up demand as household savings reach record highs, Mr Power added.

He said non-essential retail shops have endured "horrendous" pressure and massive financial support from the State will be essential.

Up to 20,000 jobs in non-essential retail could be lost by the end of 2021.

As more shoppers migrate online, this will hit shopping districts in towns and cities.


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