A new report carried out by business body Ibec shows that key industry gauges indicate this year will be the best Christmas for shops and businesses since 2008.

Irish shoppers are likely to spend €4.05bn this year, up from €3.92bn in December 2014, it expects. That is an annual rise of over 3.5pc or €130m.

Households will spend an average of €2,450 in the month, Ibec unit Retail Ireland said, approximately €600 more than any other month of the year.

The numbers are contained in its ‘Christmas Monitor 2015’, released today. Increased employment, growing consumer sentiment and rising retail sales indicate that this will be the best Christmas for the retail sector for seven years, the industry survey found.

However, growth will not be shared equally. Some sectors are outperforming others as consumers hunt for bargains, the business body said.

Department stores are seeing a strong pick up in business, driven by increasing sales of menswear and big ticket items such as furniture and televisions, while pharmacies are predicting growth of 4-5pc on sales over Christmas.

But book sales are expected to dip in the sports and entertainment categories compared to last year, when Roy Keane and Brian O’Driscoll released their autobiographies. However, the history and politics sections are expected to do well this year before next year’s 1916 centenary commemorations. Supermarkets are also expected to have a challenging few weeks as price wars continue.

More people are choosing to stay in the Republic to do their shopping, with less people opting to travel north of the border.

Numbers travelling to border towns such as Newry have dropped to 7pc, a quarter of where this figure stood in 2008.

AA Director of Consumer Affairs Conor Faughnan said that the number of shoppers staying at home has increased from 69pc in 2011 to 77pc this year.

The strength of sterling is one of the things putting people off. It is 12pc stronger against the euro now, compared to 2008.

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