CHRISTMAS has come early for retailers in Dublin's main shopping centres as consumers flock in their thousands to stores across the capital.
Footfall at Dundrum Town Centre has increased on last year despite the worsening national debt crisis, according to centre director Don Nugent.
"Last year we had 19 million shoppers through our doors and we are well on track to exceed that this year," he said.
"We are almost 4% up on this time last year, with a half-a-million people visiting the centre every week. It is the positive news we have been waiting for."
According to Nugent, shoppers are still splashing out, but with more awareness than previous years. "We are seeing that the consumer has never been as savvy and cautious and they know that there has never been better value than there is now. Retailers are pulling out all the stops and trying hard to get people back into their stores, and to give them every reason to stay shopping in the Republic and not to be tempted by crossing the border like they did this time last year."
General manager of Blanchardstown Shopping Centre Joe Gavin said he expected in excess of 300,000 to visit the centre from now until Christmas, a substantial increase on last year.
"Footfall in the centre is up 6% for 2010 to date, with 10% to 12% increases experienced weekly since September."
Gavin said recent road improvements have led to a surge of trade from surrounding counties, but that there was a renewed sense of caution because of the budget.
"Accessibility has improved greatly since the completion of the upgrade to the M50 roundabout, and since the opening of the M3 motorway we have seen a surge in shoppers from Meath and Cavan. Our free parking is also a big plus.
"While sales are most definitely on the increase there is a sense of caution in relation to recent economic events."
Fifteen new stores have opened in the centre in 2010 with another store, Tom Tailor, to open this week. "The centre is experiencing almost 100% occupancy at present and space continues to be in demand from retailers looking to locate in an established centre with high footfall."