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Christmas spend predicted to rise

Wednesday, 5th December, 2018 4:44pm

Irish retailers can expect a slightly better Christmas this year compared to last year according to a new report.

Irish households are predicted to spend an average of €2,690 in shops this December, approximately €866 more than any other month of this year and around three per cent more than Christmas 2017.

Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the sector, this week published its Christmas Retail Monitor 2018. It predicts an increase in total sales of over €150 million, with sales over the Christmas season expected to top €4.65 billion, up from €4.5 billion in 2017.

However with a greater number of Irish shoppers now choosing to shop on foreign websites, the challenge for Irish retailers will be to ensure that this buoyancy is felt locally and that Irish-based retailers benefit from this anticipated spending, Retail Ireland say.

Retail Ireland Director Thomas Burke said: “After what has been a tumultuous year of highs and low for Irish retailers, we have now reached a crucial juncture in terms of determining the end of year position for the sector. Rising disposable incomes, record numbers at work, and falling prices have all combined to give consumers greater spending power than ever before and will raise consumer spirts and enable greater spending power over the busy Christmas period.”

“While consumer sentiment has dipped somewhat in recent weeks, most likely owing to consumer fears around the impact of events such as Brexit, retailers are hoping that for the next three weeks consumers will embrace the festival of shopping that Christmas brings.”

He added: “There is no doubt the spending power is there, the challenge now for retailers is to best position themselves over this key trading period to convince consumers to part with that hard-earned cash in their stores and through their various other sales channels.”

“A strong online performance over Black Friday weekend did impact footfall in traditional bricks and mortar outlets. However local retailers are reporting a significant increase in sales in their own online stores also. This would suggest that the consumer is ready to celebrate the festive season.”

Key indicators point to retail prices remaining low, thanks in part to intense competition between retailers and positive currency movements. Other insights from the monitor include:

- Consumer goods prices have fallen by 0.8 per cent in the first ten months of 2018 and by 10 per cent since 2013.

- Retail sales in the first ten months of this year are up 2.8 per cent in value terms on the same period in 2017

- Gross disposable income was up 4.4 per cent in the first half of 2018, following on from growth of 5.7 per cent in 2017

- Overall employment grew by 66,700 in the year to the end of the September 2018. The total number employed is now in excess of 2.27 million.

There are now more people at work than at any time in the history of the State

- Central Bank statistics show that total e-commerce spend is likely to exceed €16 billion before year end.

This would represent a close to 50 per cent increase since 2015, highlighting the increasing number of Irish consumers shopping online. Growth in the online sales channel is running at ten times that of traditional bricks and mortar outlets.

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