Retailers are predicting an increase in household spending in the run-up to Christmas, despite cost-of-living pressures and the difficult economic backdrop for many.
Retail Ireland, the Ibec group representing the sector, is expecting that on average each household in Ireland will spend €1,019 more during December compared to other months of the year.
That represents an increase of 5% on what it anticipated the spend would be this time last year, bringing the total additional outlay by households during December to €1.1 billion more than in other months in 2023.
“Christmas is falling at a good time for retail, with a full week’s trading and a weekend before Christmas Day,” said Arnold Dillon, director of Retail Ireland.
“Businesses are optimistic that this will translate into positive trading figures.”
The expected bounce in spending comes despite concerns that people might stay away from shops in Dublin city centre in the aftermath of the recent riots.
“While footfall in parts of Dublin suffered due to the disturbances last month, numbers are recovering and there is a positive outlook for the run up to Christmas,” Mr Dillon said.
“Nationwide, retailers are reporting footfall up on last year, and in some areas significantly up.”
However, retailers are also reporting that shoppers are cautious, with concerns remaining around the cost of living, as inflation continues to fall from its peak.
As a result, many shoppers are looking for value or focusing on a smaller number of larger purchases, Retail Ireland says.
“Despite these factors, consumer sentiment has improved over recent months with shoppers determined to get the full Christmas experience,” Mr Dillon remarked.
“Notably, the recent cold spell has seen a significant increase in the sale of winter clothing.”
The run into Christmas is typically the most important time of the year for most retailers, with some making up to 40% of their annual turnover in the period.
This year it is all the more important because it comes at the end of what was another difficult year for the sector.
“It has been a challenging year for retail, with businesses and consumers managing significant cost increases,” said Mr Dillon.
“Inflationary factors mean that people will be spending more to maintain the same level of purchases as last year.”
“Thankfully, inflation is now firmly on a downward trajectory. This should support a further improvement in sentiment as we move into next year.”