Shoppers ready for the biggest spending spree since the boom
Shoppers this Christmas are bracing themselves for the biggest spending spree since the Celtic Tiger years.
Households are expected to spend an average of €2,690 in December, roughly €870 more than any other month this year.
This is around a 3pc increase on what was spent over the same period last year, according to a report from retailers' trade body Retail Ireland.
The increase in spending comes on the back of rising disposable incomes and record numbers at work.
Total sales over the Christmas season are expected to top €4.65bn, up from €4.5bn last year.
"There is no doubt the spending power is there, the challenge now for retailers is to best position themselves over this key trading period to convince consumers to part with that hard-earned cash in their stores and through their various other sales channels," said Tom Burke, head of Retail Ireland.
With increasing numbers of consumers choosing to shop online, the difficulty for Irish retailers will be to ensure the anticipated extra spending is felt locally.
According to IE Domain Registry, as few as three in 10 small and medium businesses are able to take sales orders online.
The company that manages Ireland's country domain name has warned businesses they could lose customers to competitors that are offering online shopping.
The expected increase in spending this month comes despite a recent dip in consumer confidence, and a flat volume of retail sales in October.
"While consumer sentiment has dipped somewhat in recent weeks, most likely to fears around the impact of events such as Brexit, retailers are hoping that for the next three weeks at least these challenges can be set aside, and consumers will embrace the festival of shopping that the Christmas season brings," said Mr Burke.
Overall, the total value of consumer spending in the Irish economy is on course to grow by 5pc this year. Unlike the previous peak in consumer spending, between 2005 and 2008, this growth is predominantly not credit driven.
During that period, Irish households were borrowing about €2bn each month to fund spending.