One third of Irish consumers, or 1.2 million people are Christmas shopping earlier this year due to lockdown, according to new research from PayPal.
The study, conducted by Censuswide and involving more than 1,000 consumers in Ireland, found that the top reasons for starting shopping earlier are concerns over the availability of items and worries about delivery times.
Some 45% of those starting their shopping earlier also said they are doing so in order to avoid the stress of last-minute buying, while more than a quarter admitted they would prefer not to visit shops in person when they open.
According to the survey, people on average expect to buy nearly half of their Christmas presents online this year.
The research also revealed that 62% of Irish consumers were making more of an effort to buy locally and from smaller retailers during the latest lockdown.
Four in five respondents said their main reason for spending more with local retailers this Christmas is to support them during Covid-19.
On average, Irish consumers spend €541 on Christmas gifts.
The biggest spending counties were found to be Louth (€1079), Westmeath (€870), and Leitrim (€853).
Maeve Dorman, Vice President of Merchant Operations EMEA, PayPal, said that lockdown has completely transformed how people are spending their money.
"As we approach Christmas - the busiest shopping period of the year which is well underway following Black Friday and Cyber Monday - the shift towards digital and contactless payments is even more prevalent than normal.
"As well as more of a reliance on online shopping, which will only continue to grow, our research shows that Irish consumers are planning to spend more with local and smaller retailers this year.
"Christmas 2020 will no doubt be different to previous years, however it will still see people seeking to take advantage of any online offerings, supporting their favourite stores and shopping carefully for special gifts – probably even more so than before," she said.