Crunch time approaches for Irish retailers

Friday, 22 December 2017

Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the sector, today said retailers were bracing themselves for a late surge over the coming days as Christmas Day draws closer. With Christmas Day falling on a Monday this year, retailers expect a flurry of activity this weekend.

Reports of brisk trading in recent days gives rise to hope that earlier positive expectations can be realised before the end of what is the most important trading period of the year. Irish retailers transact as much as 30% of their turnover in a little under 6 weeks around the Christmas period.

In its recently published Christmas Retail Monitor 2017 (see attached pdf) Retail Ireland predicted that Irish households will spend an average of €2,654 in shops this December, approximately €870 more than any other month of this year and roughly 2.6% more than Christmas 2016.

The monitor predicts an increase in total sales of over €100 million, with sales over the Christmas season expected to top €4.5 billion, up from €4.4 billion in 2016. 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 additional spending.

Retail Ireland Director Thomas Burke said: "As we flagged earlier this month, rising disposable incomes, more people at work, and falling prices were a cause for optimism amongst Irish consumers in advance of Christmas 2017, and thus far this positivity has been reflected in activity in store.

“Driven by intense competition in the sector in recent weeks, consumers’ greater spending power has led to an air of even greater positivity, with the challenge for Irish retailers being to convince Irish consumers to move away from foreign based retail websites and to shop domestically. Ongoing low prices in Irish stores will help in that regard, and initial reports would suggest slow and steady, if not spectacular, growth on Christmas 2016. Maintaining this positive momentum, up to and beyond Monday, must now be the objective.”