Consumer spending fell for a third month in a row in November, down 1.9%, according to Visa, and notably spending online was down more than spending in shops.

Philip Konopik, Ireland Country Manager with Visa, put this down to Cyber Monday falling in December.  "We expect an uplift in December as a result of that, and therefore the November numbers are down in comparison."

It is not the case that people were holding off on Christmas shopping until December because, according to Visa, shopping for presents begins in October and peaks just before Christmas.

According to research carried out by Visa, just over half of Irish shoppers (52%) said they would make purchases in a local business in the run up to Christmas, specifically to support local shopkeepers.

"We believe, and research shows, that the local high street forms a very important part of the community, and increasingly the high street is suffering more from the rise in ecommerce," Mr Konopik said.

"They are also increasingly slightly disadvantaged by the evolution of digital payments. Often a lot of these businesses cling on to cash which mean that consumers who want to pay by card will choose to go online or go to other retailers," he said.

Irish people have really embraced tapping their cards to make a payment, rather than using cash. Over 50% of all face to face transactions are tap payments in the Irish market.

The UK is getting close to 70%, "so we have still a long way to go in the popularity of tap payments," he added.

Mr Konopik said Visa is working with quite a few charities this Christmas to tap to donate.

"We are moving towards a cashless society,"he said, adding that people will have lots of payment options open to them, including by phone, card, and biometrics  - finger prints and facial recognition.