With just two shopping days left until Christmas, retailers expect today to be the busiest shopping days of the year.

Footfall in shops across the country is up significantly compared to the same time last year - according to Retail Ireland, a representative group for the sector.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Arnold Dillon, Director of Retail Ireland said fears around the Omicron variant of Covid-19 impacted pre-Christmas trade last year.

"It is a completely different situation this year," he said.

"Although there were no retail restrictions this time last year, there was significant anxiety around the Omicron variant and that reduced footfall dramatically, particularly in that last week running up to Christmas," he said.

This December, Mr Dillon said footfall returned to the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.

"People are determined to get that full festive experience that they missed out on over the last few years," he said.

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Retail Ireland is expecting spending to be in line with previous years, despite the fact that many people are struggling financially due to the cost of living crisis.

"We're expecting the average household to spend around €890 extra in retail - above and beyond what they would spend in a normal month of the year," he said.

Mr Dillon said this year's retail trends show that people are preparing for large family gatherings over the coming days.

"People are buying large cuts of meat, large turkeys, large hams - and they are having these large get-togethers that weren't possible in previous years due to the pandemic," he said.

Looking ahead to 2023, Retail Ireland said businesses in the sector are set to face significant challenges.

"Rising costs, in particular energy costs are a big concern - and it is important that Government supports remain in place - beyond next February.

"We're not expecting a recession next year, we're expecting positive growth in consumer spending," Mr Dillon said.