Consumers hungry for Black Friday deals have been warned to protect their personal data when shopping online.
The shopping splurge, which originated in the US to mark the start of the Christmas shopping season after Thanksgiving, has been an important feature in the Irish retail market in recent years.
It has also been a huge boon to the online shopping market in Ireland with shoppers here spending €4.6bn online in the last quarter, and full year online sales are likely to top the €15.8bn spent in 2017.
However, data security firm BSI Cybersecurity and Information Resilience have warned that in the rush to grab an online bargain, consumers can become less aware of their data security.
Senior Manager at BSI Cybersecurity and Information Resilience Stephen Scott advised consumers to only share basic personal data when making a payment, stick to trusted websites, be cautious when responding to emails and to keep their software and passwords updated.
In the lead up to Christmas, during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consumers can get carried away seeking out the perfect gift or finding the best bargain and tend to become less vigilant about protecting their personal data online.
"Our advice is to follow the tips we have outlined and to know who you are buying from, to make sure they are a reputable and trusted outlet, and that if a bargain seems too good to be true - then it probably is," he said.
Retail Ireland director Thomas Burke said that while Black Friday is great news for consumers, its benefits are now being openly questioned by retailers.
"While the deep discounting and heavy promotional activity is certainly good news for Irish consumers, it does present a challenge for many retailers who have seen an erosion in their competitive position in recent months as a result of a growing inputs costs in areas such as labour, insurance, local authority rates and rents."
Consumers are now expecting deep discounts of as much as 50% on a wide range of products. But retailers are increasingly reluctant to engage in such deep discounting for fear that they are merely displaying sales that would otherwise happen later in the Christmas shopping period at more normal price levels," he said.
Meanwhile, independent Irish retailers have urged shoppers to turn Black Friday green and buy local.
In Cork, Bronwyn Connolly, from Wild Design Cork in Paul Street Shopping Centre, is coordinating a customer evening in St Peter’s Church from 5pm-8pm tomorrow night where shoppers can meet and greet the makers from her store and buy directly from them.
“Green Friday is about promoting home-grown businesses, shopping and supporting your local city, towns and villages. We need to start thinking at a more local level if our economy is to thrive,” she said.