High Street hoping for €2bn boost as shoppers chase last-minute bargains
Shoppers are set to splash a "record-breaking" €2bn over the final days of Christmas shopping with 'Super Saturday' today expected to be the biggest retail day this year.
Despite a dismal December, blighted by windy and wet weather, and a slow November, when footfall dropped by up to 5pc after Black Friday, retailers are bracing themselves for a last-minute frenzy.
Thomas Burke, from Retail Ireland at Ibec, said this weekend had left "time to make up the ground we lost".
"Members are reporting trade has been brisk the last few days. We hope Christmas falling on a Tuesday will allow for a busy full weekend and Monday and that we'll make up that ground," he said.
Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) has predicted Irish shoppers will have spent €2bn from yesterday up until the close of St Stephen's Day sales.
But the single biggest amount - a predicted €1.35bn - will be splashed out today as workers who've been paid for the holidays join thousands of emigrants returning home.
And many stores had already launched sales leading up to Christmas Day, with Arnotts reducing selected lines of footwear, women's clothing, accessories and homeware by up to 50pc.
Fears over a bleak pre-Christmas trading performance up until now have led big names including House of Fraser, Debenhams, Gap, Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Karen Millen to start discounting earlier than ever.
Marks & Spencer is plugging up to 50pc off furniture and deals on some underwear, while Brown Thomas is offering up to 40pc off designer clothing and 10pc off gift sets.
Online retailers such as Amazon, Net a Porter and Asos are placing more pressure on main streets by allowing orders as late as Christmas Eve for same-day delivery. Online shopping has grown rapidly in 2018, hitting retailers with 70pc of online spend going to foreign businesses.
The rise of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, discount events held before Christmas, has further encouraged shoppers to go online.
Meanwhile, a supermarket trade war is underway with Tesco, Supervalu and Lidl trying to compete on pre-Christmas Day deals for shoppers, targeting dinner ingredients and alcohol. All three have deals on alcohol and are selling carrots, Brussels sprouts and parsnips for 49c.
David Fitzsimons, group chief executive of REI, said: "We're hoping to break all records over the next four days with retail revenue of €2bn.
"With the bad weather forecast last weekend and the orange alert, a large number of shoppers stayed at home. But with full employment, everyone getting paid and the weather forecast to be reasonably good, we expect to see huge numbers out."
A handful of Spar, Eurospar, Londis and Mace stores are expected to open on Christmas Day.
Retailers in Dublin, Cork city and Galway city reported increasing trade in the final days before Christmas.