Retail Ireland has predicted that an additional €1.2 billion will be spent by Irish households in the retail sector this Christmas, down slightly on last year's spending. 

In total €4.8bn will be spent on retail sales during December, €1.2bn more than a normal month.

It projects that each household will spend €700 more over the festive four weeks than they would in an ordinary month.

It says the spending will be bolstered by the billions in household deposits that have been accumulated since this time last year. 

Meanwhile, the National Transport Authority (NTA) is appealing to the shopping public to avoid public transport at rush hour where possible over the coming weeks. 

Capacity will be increased to 50% tomorrow from the current 25%, but there is concern that there may still be pressure points during the morning and evening rush hour. 

The NTA is appealing to people to work from home where they can and to avoid public transport during rush hour and cycle and walk where it is feasible in order to keep capacity for essential workers at the busiest times.

Meanwhile, non-essential retailers around the country are finalising preparations ahead of reopening their doors for the first time in six weeks. 

Level 5 restrictions will begin to ease tomorrow, with restaurants and gastro pubs following suit on Friday. 

The Government expects to see new cases of Covid-19 increasing in two weeks' time, once restrictions are eased.

But Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said there is no intention to reimpose tighter restrictions unless there is a huge rise in cases.

To prevent that happening, the Government is advising people to be vigilant, plan ahead for Christmas and remember that every contact counts.