Bumper ‘Cyber Week’ for retailers says Retail Excellence Ireland

Pharmacy, cosmetics, electronics, technology and fashion have been the biggest draws for Irish shoppers so far this Christmas season. A report conducted by retail representative body Retail Excellence Ireland show a sales lift of up to 60% year-on-year during the final week of November. This week, dubbed ‘Cyber Week’ has fast become a crucial time for retailers as it sees online retail figures spike in time for Christmas. It stems originally from US retailers tempting shoppers by offering bargains around the American Thanksgiving holiday. Events such as Cyber Week have prompted many retailers to adapt their sales strategy with a view to elongating the Christmas shopping period.

Lorraine Higgins, Deputy Chief Executive of Retail Excellence Ireland, said the survey was representative of all the retail sectors in Ireland and the fact that retailers were reporting a 20-60% increase in sales is a very positive story. According to Higgins, the benefits to the Exchequer are also obvious as well and she highlights how Budget 2018 resulted in many with increased disposable income, which is impacting positively on consumer sentiment. A record number of people are also back at work and so will up their spending.

But she added that the retail sector is not without its challenges, and the amount of spending that is “leaking out” of the country on a daily basis is one of these challenges. Two-thirds of consumers’ online spend is going out of the country and further supports for retailers to take on the European online stage are needed. She said that Enterprise Ireland currently supports manufacturing and processing companies, and now it is time the agency also supported the retail industry.

Ms Higgins said that online sales is an increasingly important part of retailers’ business and its growth cannot be underestimated. She said that it will become up to 30% of retailers’ business and so is too big to ignore. There are difficulties due to poor broadband services in some areas of the country, but Ms Higgins said that €602 billion is being spent by European consumers online and Irish retailers have to get a slice of that ever-increasing pie. According to Department of Communications figures, 84% of Irish consumers by 2020 will buy “frequently” online, she added.

Irish households to spend average of €2,654 in the lead up to Christmas

Irish households are expected to spend an average of €2,654 in the run-up to Christmas, according to Retail Ireland, the retail representative body.

This figure is €870 more than any other month this year as Irish shoppers are expected to take advantage of rising wages and falling prices to spend significantly more in the coming weeks. The Ibec group predicts an increase in total sales of more than €100 million and as a whole, we’re expected to spend around €4.5 billion over the Christmas period, a figure up from the €4.4 billion spent in 2016.

A combination of lower prices and higher disposable income should see consumers more willing to spend. According to the report, the prices of goods have fallen by 2.2% in the first 10 months of 2017 and by 8.4% in the last three years. The pattern of lower prices is set to continue as consumers avail of discounts arising from Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.While prices are falling, spending power is increasing as gross disposable income has climbed by 5.4% in the first half of 2017, following growth of more than 4% in 2016.

For supermarkets and department stores, it expects the week beginning 18 December to be a “make or break” week, with Christmas Day falling on a Monday. Thomas Burke, director of Retail Ireland, said department stores were expecting Christmas to be “a bit of a nail-biter this year” with last-minute shopping expected well into the final week.For 2017 the major trends centre around personalisation, fragrance, champagne and chocolates. For men, the focus will be on trainers, expensive branded and limited editions at mid-price, and for women, luxury accessories and niche fragrance remain firm favourites.

TVs, tablets and video game systems were key to driving sales for many retailers over Black Friday and Cyber Monday and significant demand for these products is expected continue right up until December 25th. While discounting and promotions were used to generate sales over the Black Friday weekend, there will be a renewed emphasis on margin retention on the run-up to Christmas.