December 23rd busiest day of year for in-store shopping

Retailers and publicans can rely on brisk trade come that Saturday, in line with AIB spending data from 2022

Retailers and publicans can bet on a busy day of Christmas trading on Saturday, December 23rd, as data from AIB shows that last year the day before Christmas Eve was the busiest day of spending all year for gifts and groceries, as well as the busiest of the festive season for pubs.

Card transaction data from AIB showed that 2.8 million transactions were carried out in shops on December 23rd last year, 84 per cent higher than an average day. It was the busiest of the year for in-store trading, with the most frenetic hour between midday and 1pm when €12 million alone was spent.

While women spent more in the run-up to Christmas last year, men tended to be more “last minute”, with their busiest time for in-store shopping between 12pm and 1pm on Christmas Eve.

December 23rd was also the busiest day of 2022 for grocery shopping, with spending 191 per cent higher than an average day. Despite the rise in online shopping more generally, 93 per cent of people still chose to do their Christmas grocery shop in-store. It was also the busiest day of December for pubs last year, with €5.2 million spent in total, and men spending almost twice as much as women in pubs on the day.


The next busiest day for pubs last December was Saturday 17th (€4.8 million) followed by New Year’s Eve (€4.3 million).

People from Wicklow spent the most on their cards in-store and online in December 2022 (€1,941), while people from Donegal spent the least (€1,512).

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There was no spike in spending on December 8th last year, indicating that the tradition of Christmas shoppers countrywide travelling to the capital on this day may be coming to an end.

The quietest day of the year for spending in shops was Christmas Day, with some 85,000 in-store transactions mostly for fuel supplies.

Separately, new data showed economic activity in Dublin continued to grow in the third quarter, but the pace of expansion slowed.

Data from the Dublin Economic Monitor pointed to a more challenging start to next year for the capital, as growth in retail spending slowed and business activity was also marked via weaker expansion.

The Dublin S&P Global Purchasing Managers’ Index showed a reading of 53.5, above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction but marginally weaker than the second quarter’s reading of 54.9. However, it was still ahead of the growth across the rest of the Republic, which was recorded at 50.5 for the three months.

Retail spending was up 3.7 per cent year on year, with entertainment a key factor in growth over the last quarter. According to MasterCard data, spending was 0.9 per cent higher quarter on quarter.

Ellen O'Regan

Ellen O’Regan

Ellen O’Regan is an Irish Times journalist.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist