'Tis the season to spend money – on early 'sales'
With the early Budget receding in our minds, punters are loosening their purse strings
THE country's biggest department stores have launched their winter sales early – in a bid to entice Christmas shoppers to start spending.
Clerys, Arnotts, Brown Thomas and House of Fraser all have sale signs up in the midst of the festive cheer.
Once shoppers had to wait until January to snap up bargains, but this year they will be able to put some bargains under the Christmas tree.
Concerns about the Budget may have contributed to last month's drop of 0.2 per cent in sales volumes, but analysts have pointed out that there was no December Budget to dampen Christmas shopping in the next four weeks as has happened in previous years.
The knock-on effect has spurred top retailers to give added incentives to get people through their doors.
Brown Thomas has up to 20 per cent off selected items throughout the store until the end of today and 10 per cent off selected beauty items until close of business tonight.
The newly relaunched Clerys store on Dublin's O'Connell Street is offering up to 50 per cent off throughout. With a giant glittering bow wrapped around the outside of the store, the team behind the relaunch is pulling out all the stops to entice shoppers.
Don Nugent, centre director with Dundrum Town Centre, said people who were taking the gamble of waiting for the January sales may be beaten to the bargain: "There really has never been better value pre-Christmas. If you're waiting for the January sales, you may get better discounts, but the challenge is that what you're looking for mightn't be there any more because of the level of discounts that are on offer in the run-up to Christmas.
"The fact that the Budget was early this year, I would see that as a positive because it's out of the way now. The chatter around the property tax was a distraction that we could have done without, but now people know how much they have to spend pre-Christmas and they are allocating a certain amount each week and getting out earlier than ever."
Arnotts is hosting what they call "a mega weekend", with 20 per cent off almost everything until tonight. Meanwhile, Harvey Nichols has slashed up to 50 per cent off selected items in store.
"Coming up to Christmas, customers are certainly aware of the added value incentives, and this is a great time of year to reward our customers," Harvey Nichols's Dublin director Kenny Robertson said.
"We have a December Dash promotion running today and tomorrow, with 20 per cent to 50 per cent off fashion and accessories through a lucky dip discount which adds a fun element. And we are offering a beauty gift worth €205 with purchases over €130 in our Beyond Beauty department this week."
The value of retail sales has dropped by 2.1 per cent in the year, with the volume of sales also down by 0.9 per cent, according to figures published by the Cental Statistics Office.
The homeware sectors experienced the biggest boost in sales last month, with furniture and lighting enjoying a 4.9 per cent boost and electrical goods up 2.6 per cent.
Sales of books, newspapers and stationery also rose by 2.2 per cent in October, while clothing and shoes fell by 2.9 per cent and hardware sales were down 2.1 per cent.