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'Splash the cash and save Irish jobs,' retailers urge

Shoppers will spend €52m a day from now until Christmas

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Shoppers brave the wet weather on Grafton Street.

Shoppers brave the wet weather on Grafton Street.

Shoppers brave the wet weather on Grafton Street.

An estimated €160,000 a minute will be spent today as Irish retailers prepare for the busiest trading day of the year.

Spending across the country is expected to double the normal Christmas daily levels as shoppers rush to take advantage of the first weekend of trading after Level 5 lockdown restrictions were eased.

Irish business associations and chambers of commerce expect only December 12, 19 and 20 - two Saturdays and a single Sunday - to rival the spending levels predicted for today.

The sales surge has also led to an avalanche of bookings for restaurants and cafes - with many now booked out for every Saturday in December.

Tide

"A rising tide is hopefully going to lift all Irish ships, shops, hotels and restaurants," said Kingsley Hotel manager Fergal Harte.

Stores and shopping centres will now operate extended opening hours up until December 24 and consumers were urged to "shop local" and back Irish producers given the huge challenges posed by the pandemic.

Retail Ireland, business associations and chambers of commerce said there were "very strong signs" that the 'shop local' message was being firmly heeded by Irish consumers.

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People enjoy drinks at Davy Byrnes on Duke St

People enjoy drinks at Davy Byrnes on Duke St

People enjoy drinks at Davy Byrnes on Duke St

December's retail spending will now soar to €1.2bn above that of September.

Normal monthly retail spending in Ireland is slightly less than €5bn.

Strong spending has already been reported on electrical goods, luxury items and fashion.

An estimated €52m a day will now be spent until December 24 - with the bulk of the spending predicted for the three weekends before Christmas Day.

Peak sales are predicted for the weekends of December 5-6 and December 12-13, when it is estimated that more than €10m an hour will be spent nationwide.

Dublin Town's Richard Guiney said it is a critical trading period for all retailers.

"They need your support more than ever before - we are encouraging people to shop local and support Dublin traders in the run-up to Christmas."

Mr Guiney said the 50pc increase in public transport capacity was critical to them.

Dublin Town, which represents city centre traders, said that despite the sales surge, it expects footfall or the number of shoppers in the capital to drop by between 24pc and 33pc compared to Christmas 2019.

An average Irish family is expected to spend €700 to €800 more in December than in the other 11 months of the year.

Household spending could increase still further this month as some people dip into money saved over the pandemic lockdown.

Retail Excellence Ireland boss Duncan Graham said it was critical that consumers support local traders as he said many were now entirely dependent on a strong Christmas trade.

"Retailers have been counting down the days to getting their doors back open. It is vital we get retail fully moving again to help Irish retailers survive into 2021."

Closures

But he warned the retail environment remains very turbulent, as evidenced by the recent high street closures in the UK.

He said Irish retail will see closures but he was optimistic these would not happen before early or mid 2021.

Cork Business Association President Eoin O'Sullivan said many traders needed a strong Christmas to survive into 2021.

"It is about supporting local traders and local jobs.

"Our members are doing their utmost to ensure everyone's safety and implementing Covid-19 protection guidelines."

Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway have all organised more expansive festive lighting programmes to attract shoppers - while Christmas festivals have been 're-imagined' to allow for social distancing and safe attractions.


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