Christmas spending up but regional centres losing out

Consumers expected to part with more than €4 billion over holiday season

People shopping on Grafton street, Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

People shopping on Grafton street, Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

 

Christmas spending is on par to hit positive projections according to Retail Ireland, but traders in major urban centres are faring considerably better than their regional counterparts.

The Ibec affiliate had earlier predicted that retailers would receive a 3.5 per cent bump in sales over the Christmas period this year compared to 2014, with consumer spending expected to top the €4 billion mark nationwide.

This now appears to be the case, according to latest remarks from Retail Ireland director Thomas Burke, who has attributed the increase to competitive trading figures for menswear, beauty and electronics.

“Despite a slight drop off in footfall for certain retailers in the aftermath, due in part to some poor weather, we remain on course to meet the forecast made in late November,” he said.

“Early indications would also suggest that the extra day this Christmas week when compared to Christmas 2014 and a late shopping surge has helped recover some lost ground.”

The overall trend may be positive for retailers, but the group identified that much of the improvement came about as the result of strong trading figures in Dublin and other major urban centres, while regional towns and villages appear to be lagging behind.

Retail Ireland previously said Irish households will spend an average sum of almost €2,500 this December, which has contributed to what are expected to be the highest seasonal sales figures since 2008.

Competition in the grocery sector has manifested in greater discounts for shoppers, it said, while online shopping services have also recorded a noticeable growth.

“Competition is intense and consumers will benefit from heavy discounting as the sales period gets into full swing with prices on par with December 2001,” said Mr Burke.

“After a number of very difficult years for retailers, it appears the much needed strong Christmas performance has materialised,” he added.