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big rush Shoppers set for online bargain hunt as some stores opt to keep their doors shut for St Stephen’s Day sales

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Shoppers on Henry Street, Dublin, for the St Stephen's Day sales in 2018. Photo: Mark Condren

Shoppers on Henry Street, Dublin, for the St Stephen's Day sales in 2018. Photo: Mark Condren

Shoppers on Henry Street, Dublin, for the St Stephen's Day sales in 2018. Photo: Mark Condren

The festive season is packed with traditions, from carol singing and turkey and ham to visits to Santa and bargain hunting in the sales – but retail patterns are changing.

Tomorrow, some consumers may well find themselves shopping online on Christmas Day for the first time in their lives.

The online discounts will no doubt appeal to those who unexpectedly find themselves isolating alone due to the Omicron variant, and they will be browsing for bargains instead of being with family and friends.

Christmas Day is a big shopping day online – one of the busiest of the year – but for some shoppers it never came on their radar because they were too invested in other traditions.

However, with more people home alone, isolating and waiting for the result of tests after a close-contact warning, brands are fully expecting to see December 25 shopping newbies enter the e-commerce Crimbo world.

Red signs indicating discounts have been going up all week as stores go down the sales route, and discounting online will have begun as bricks and mortar stores close their doors this evening, with more discounts slated for online tomorrow.

Meanwhile, in another festive retail twist, hardcore Christmas bargain hunters are in for another surprise when they find some stores are not opening their doors as usual on St Stephen’s Day, opting instead to reopen on Monday.

This will be the first time in 10 years that the Louis Copeland stores around the country have not opened on December 26, according to their general manager David O’Connor.

While their post-Christmas sale starts in stores at 9.30am on December 27, there will be online discounts starting tomorrow.

Duncan Graham, managing director of Retail Excellence, said: “I think we will see fewer stores open on Stephen’s Day for their sale, compared to the last two or three years.

“I think we will see the main sale kicking off on December 27 with some of the bigger retailers opening up on the 26th.

“But that swing we’ve seen to the St Stephen’s Day sale over the last few years, I think is swinging back a little bit the other way now.”

Retail has experienced staffing challenges, and the tightening up of restrictions in the hospitality sector has had an impact too.

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The cancellation of parties means a lot of clothing retailers are “now sitting on quite a bit of party wear and occasion wear stock they would have expected to have sold at this point”, said Mr Graham.

Trade this Christmas is expected to be up about 5pc on last year but it is not spread evenly across the sector, according to Arnold Dillon, director of Retail Ireland at Ibec.

A combination of hospitality restrictions, working from home and a lack of tourists meant footfall in some city centre locations, in particular in Dublin, were down 20-30pc in places.

While there was less browsing going on, the conversion rate is increasing and people were typically spending a little bit more than they might have in the past, he told Morning Ireland on RTÉ.

Harvey Norman is one of the stores reopening on December 26, with doors open at 11am, and their ‘Big Deals Campaign’ launches online at 4pm today with deals across appliances, technology, furniture and bedding.

The Brown Thomas sale commences at 10am on December 26 in stores nationwide, with reductions of up to 50pc off across fashion, accessories, footwear, homewares and tech. Their online sale starts on selected lines at 6pm tonight.

Their sister store, Arnotts, on Henry Street, also opens at 10am on Sunday with reductions of up to 50pc off across many departments. Their online sale on selected lines also starts at 6pm tonight.

The Marks & Spencer sale launches online today and in stores from December 27, with discounts of up to 50pc.

The Spotlight Oral Care sale is live from 11am tomorrow, with 35pc off all products on spotlightoralcare.com.

Boots’ clearance sale has launched online and will be available in stores nationwide from St Stephen’s Day.

The five-star InterContinental Dublin begins its sale on Sunday with a 20pc discount off room-only rates and complimentary breakfast.

A room sale at the Hardiman Hotel in Galway starts on December 27 with a range of travel offers.


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