WE may be in the grip of recession but that won't stop Irish parents spending more on Christmas toys for their children than anywhere else in Europe.
Parents here will spend an average of €278 on their children, an eBay Ireland survey found.
This is nearly twice as much as German parents, who'll spend €143, while French parents will spend €188, the survey of 1,000 adults found.
Spending on toys took a nosedive after the recession hit, but toy stores say this has stabilised and there has been a slight improvement this year.
Some €446m was spent on games and toys in specialist stores in 2008, but this plummeted to €343m a year later as the recession bit, according to Central Statistics Office figures.
However, toy spending stabilised at €341m in 2010, and retailers said they'd seen an improvement in 2012.
The news comes as a welcome boost to the ailing retail industry, which is hoping for a bumper festive period after some lean months.
Smyths said they had experienced small growth in sales in 2012, led primarily by an increase in online purchases from their Irish website.
They had their busiest day ever online last Monday, a spokesman said.
Ebay Ireland said toy sales were up 7pc year on year as people were more savvy about searching online earlier, with 31pc of people starting their Christmas shopping in November.
"Parents are still doing their best to get them their number one choice," said Gareth Staunton, owner of family toystore Nimble Fingers, in Stillorgan.
Nimble Fingers has been in business for 50 years, and focuses on arts and crafts, wooden and educational toys.
It had a steadier trade than the big players, who would be more vulnerable to economic swings, Mr Staunton said.
"We focus on a range of slightly more unusual toys, as well as some of the longtime favourites such as Lego and Playmobil."
This year Lego's new Friends range aimed at girls has been a particularly big seller, and they've been sold out of the Olivia's House set since last month, he added.
Board games remained particularly popular, with many made by Hasbro in Waterford, while Gosling games were another range selling well this year.
Ringboards -- where you throw rings over pegs to score points -- had also made a big comeback.