It may be 11 weeks to Christmas Day but retailers are advising the public to start their festive shopping now.

Dublin Town, which represents 2,500 businesses in the capital, says in order to avoid queues and beat the December rush, now is a good time to start ticking off the Christmas list.

Retailers say with 76 shopping days to go, people are already beginning to focus on the festive period.

Dublin Town CEO Richard Guiney said the normal footfall in Dublin city centre in the run-up to the Christmas period will not be viable because of social distancing requirements.

Mr Guiney also asked consumers who are shopping online this festive season to buy from Irish retailers, saying this would be a "make or break" Christmas for many.

He said what happens in the next few weeks could help determine the future of Dublin city centre.

"People working in retail really need your support and this could very well be the difference between having a vibrant city centre post pandemic or not".

In relation to a 28-day return policy that many shops have in place, Mr Guiney said most retailers will work with customers around that under the current circumstances.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, he said retailers should communicate their return policy to all their customers but, he said, most businesses would be happy to have the legislation looked at by the Government during the pandemic.

Mr Guiney said there is scope to work on return policies but the key is to instill confidence in customers and said reasonable retailers will work with every party on that.

Maurice Doyle, the General Manager of Banba Toymaster, said they had seen an increase in Christmas shopping since Monday but he said they had plenty of stock to meet demand.

He said that earlier shopping would help people avoid crowds and inclement weather.

"We want to encourage people to space Christmas over three months rather than compact it into the last three weeks. It'll make it easier for everyone."

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Mark Limby, Stores Director with Brown Thomas and Arnotts, said they would be extending their refund period to facilitate early shopping and said they wanted to encourage people to shop online early too to ensure timely delivery.

Chris Andrews, Operations Manager for Weir and Sons jewellers on Grafton Street, said people had become more efficient shoppers in recent times, with many doing their research online before visiting the store.

He said the coming weeks are among the most important for retailers, with many of them doing most of their business in the run-up to Christmas.

Retail Excellence also said 70% of retail profits are made in the run-up to the festive period and because of this they are calling on the Government to make all retail essential at this time of year.

This would allow all types of retailers to keep their doors open if Level 4 or Level 5 restrictions were introduced in the coming weeks.

In Dublin city centre today, a number of shoppers who spoke to RTÉ News were already embracing the pre-Halloween build-up to Christmas.

Some said they wanted to avoid the crowds, while others wanted to ensure they could purchase presents in the event that higher levels of restrictions were introduced.

One shopper admitted that she had started early because she had to use more imagination this year, mainly because she could no longer buy gift vouchers for her grandmother who is cocooning and can no longer shop for herself.