Retailers predicting bumper Christmas sales
Business chiefs are predicting a bumper spend by consumers this Christmas - the biggest since before the recession.
Shoppers are expected to fork out 2,450 euro per household, pumping more than 4 billion euro into high streets - 600 million euro more than in an average month.
Retail Ireland said the big buys will be in electronics, fashion, footwear and furniture - while demand for books, news and stationery and grocery has remained weak.
The organisation said that intense competition to get shoppers into stores is keeping goods' prices down at levels not seen since 2001 - and that bargain hunters are able to buy more but pay less.
Thomas Burke, director of Retail Ireland, said shop owners were optimistic in the run up to Christmas.
"The next few weeks are by far the most important trading period of the year and key indicators are pointing in the right direction. More people are at work, disposable income is rising and the Irish consumer is more positive about the future," he said.
Meanwhile, more and more Irish consumers are planning to do their shopping in the Republic.
A survey of 5,500 people by the AA revealed that since 2008, the overall figure for those travelling across the border to Northern Ireland to stock up for Christmas has dwindled from 27% to 7%.
Experts pointed to the exchange rate from a strong Sterling as a reason people have been put off.
Conor Faughnan, director of consumer affairs at The AA, said: "Although we're technically out of the recession, many people will still want to keep their purse strings tight and for good reason.
"There is no doubt that a trip to Northern Ireland appears to be less attractive for a lot of people this year. It seems likely that the strength of sterling is one of the things putting people off; it is 12% stronger against the euro now compared to Christmas of 2008. Whatever the reason, more Irish people are choosing to do their shopping close to home this year."
Despite the low overall numbers for people going north, the border counties still give a strong showing for those opting to buy in Sterling.
The AA said almost 50% of Monaghan residents are likely to do their Christmas shopping in Northern Ireland, down from 74% in 2011 and in Donegal, Leitrim and Louth the cross over rate ranges from 30-21% respectively.