With non-essential retailers still in Stage 5 Covid-19 lockdown, consumers this week will be navigating a four day weekend of online sales and promotions from Black Friday to Cyber Monday completely online. 

Online shoppers need to be more wary than ever that they do not fall victim to a scam during the buying frenzy.

Six in ten consumers have said they will do more online shopping this year than last year, according to Banking and Payments Federation Ireland. 

The trend has been going upwards in recent years and Covid-19 restrictions have pushed it up further.

Retail Ireland has estimated that over 90% of this year's Black Friday spending will be online as many shops deemed as non-essential remain closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

The Ibec group said the average Black Friday spend is about €250 for those who make purchases.

Over 50% of Black Friday spending is on electrical goods, with about a third spent on fashion, clothing and accessories, it noted. 

Retail Ireland said there is significant pent up demand in the economy and at the same time people are planning their Christmas shopping early to avoid any last minute rush. 

It expects that between €1 billion and €1.2 billion will be be spent on Christmas this year.

Retail Ireland Director Arnold Dillon said that the next few weeks will be make or break for many retailers, who have taken a major financial hit due to Covid restrictions. 

"Public health will be the priority for the sector over the coming weeks. Stores are planning longer opening hours to better spread trade throughout the day and facilitate social distancing. In some cases this will likely involve 24 hour opening," Mr Dillon said. 

Meanwhile, comparison website Switcher.ie have issued some tips to help keep people safe while shopping online in the run-up to Christmas.

It urges consumers to check that websites are legitimate by making sure the site has "HTTPS" rather than "HTTP" at the beginning of the URL, which means it is secure and which is important if people are entering personal information.

It also recommends that consumers pay securely by using a debit or credit card to get extra protection on your purchases.


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Consumers are also urged to check for scams and Switcher.ie said that if you find a deal that seems too good to be true, it could be. 

Switcher.ie also said that consumers should double check their basket and when shopping online, as it is easy to add the wrong make or model to your basket.

People shopping online should also protect their computers or phones by having an antivirus or firewall which will help protect them from cyber threats.  

Eoin Clarke, Managing Director of Switcher.ie, said that now more than ever it is important to support local and Irish businesses. 

He said that many Irish firms offer deals themselves, and advises people to check with them before shopping with the big chains. 

"Thousands of small businesses have been shut for a third of the year, they need our support like never before," he added.

Mr Clarke also urged consumers to try not to get caught up in the whirlwind of discounts and buy things that they do not need. 

"Shopping online makes it easier than ever to check you're really getting a good deal, so shop around before you checkout and factor in things like delivery costs. You also get better refund rights when you buy online, but there are exceptions so check before you buy," he added.

Meanwhile, Currys PC World has said the most sought after categories in this year's sales reflect the lifestyle changes that came with Covid-19. 

As both working and entertaining at home has became the norm, the company said that items like large screen TVs, tablets, coffee machines and headphones were the most popular products for consumers.

It also noted some interesting purchasing trends emerge this year, with sales of sewing machines soaring by 800% on an annual basis while sales of steam cleaners jumped 200% in sales compared to last year.