Retailers are hoping an extra weekend before Christmas will pay dividends for their sales after a lean five years.
Christmas Day falls on a Tuesday this year, meaning there are four weekends in the month.
Stephen Lynam, director of Retail Ireland, said many people leave their festive shopping until the last minute so there may be an upturn next weekend.
He said it was not possible, at this stage, to gauge whether 2012 was a good or bad year for retailers.
“We wont have a clear idea until after Christmas until we see how the sales figures have gone for next weekend,” said Mr Lynam.
“We haven’t had as many weekends in December to shop for a number of years so it is difficult to compare.”
Figures from the CSO show retail sales went up for four months in a row between August and November.
However, Mr Lynam said retailers take those figures with a pinch of salt, as they may overstate the extent of the recovery.
He pointed out that sales so far in 2012 are lower than 2011 and have been dropping since 2008.
In relation to retailers’ performance in the run-up to Christmas, he said: “Its a mixed picture but in the last couple of weeks sales have been performing relatively well.
“We are putting that down to the fact the budget is now behind us and people are somewhat clear what their finances will look like in 2013.
“Also, it does not look like we are going to have the bad weather which we had in 2009 and 2010 which completely destroyed Christmas sales.”
Mr Lynam insisted that not too much should be read into the upsurge pre-Christmas sales.
“The idea that there is only a post-Christmas/New Year sale and a summer sale is old hat,” he said. “Retailers don’t behave like that any more. They have had to change their business model to meet the consumer demands.
“Having a pre-Christmas sale is not a brand new phenomenon. The fact that you are seeing some retailers engaging in pre- Christmas sales activity does show that it is still quite tough out there.
“In order to build loyalty to your brand and to that retailer and also to get people through the door, there is evidence to say people are having to engage in Christmas sales now. It shows how far away we are from the level of sales in 2006, 2007, and 2008.”
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