Consumers to spend €1.5bn this Christmas

Irish people are going to splurge almost €1.5bn on food, drink, and presents this Christmas — more than any country in Europe.

The annual Deloitte consumer survey of Christmas spending predicts the average spend in more than 1.6m households in Ireland this Christmas, excluding travel, will be €894, with an average of €484.81 on gifts, €258.84 on food and €150.76 on socialising. The majority of budgets will go on gifts (30%), followed by food (28%), and socialising (24%).

However, despite spending more than consumers across Europe, Ireland is one of five countries where consumers plans to spend less. Consumers in France (-0.9%), Portugal (-2.3%), Italy (-2.4%), and Greece (-12.8%) also intend on decreasing spending.

In keeping with the trend since the downturn in the economy, some 22% of Irish consumers will focus more on buying products and gifts that are on sale, while 13% will focus more on buying useful gifts. Some 56% of respondents indicated they will reduce the amount they buy on impulse.

Loyalty and reward programmes influence Irish consumers’ decision making more so than their European counterparts.

Immediate discounts were most effective, as identified by 43%. This was followed by earning points towards vouchers for use in several retailers (17%), earning points to earn vouchers for use in the store of purchase (14%), and future discounts (13%).

In terms of timing, 47% of Irish consumers’ Christmas shopping has been completed before December and 32% said they will buy their gifts in the first half of December, with the remaining 21% spreading it over Christmas.

Deloitte partner Kevin Sheehan said despite being big Christmas spenders the recession was clearly still a concern of consumers. “The findings suggest that, as ever, Christmas is an extremely important time for the Irish and they will celebrate accordingly. While consumers will spend marginally less, retailers will be enthused somewhat that the rate of decline in spending has stabilised and is in line with last year.”

Conor Healy, chief executive of Cork Chamber of Commerce, said the trend towards pre-Christmas sales, as well as January sales, was something retailers had become used to in recent years, and advised consumers to think about where they spend their money.

Festive spending

* Consumers predict they will spend 1.7% less.

* The most popular gifts Irish consumers like to receive are books, money and clothes /shoes.

* On average, each child will receive six gifts.

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