Retail Ireland has said it expects retail footfall on a national basis this December to be "significantly up" on last year.

The retail representative group has said "the trends recently have been very positive" following the disruption caused by Covid-19 in 2020 and 2021.

Arnold Dillon, Director of Retail Ireland, said he expects "footfall this year to be significantly up on last year".

"Even though there were no retail restrictions last year, there were significant anxieties around Covid and I think this year it does seem that the consumer is determined to really mark the season and we saw that in footfall around Black Friday and I think the indications are positive going into Christmas."

Mr Dillon said increases in footfall have already being recorded across the country this year compared with 2021.

"They have been tracked over the last number of years and even though last year was a positive year for retail, there still was a significant drop in footfall."

He said: "This year we have seen footfall levels right across this country go back to in excess of where they were pre-Covid."

In the capital, Dublin Town has forecasted that footfall this year will be "well ahead" of last year and just below 2019 levels.

The business representative group said the latest trends are very positive, following the disruption caused by Covid-19 restrictions in 2020 and 2021.

Dublin Town tracks footfall across the city centre, including key locations such as Henry Street.

Gerry Farrell, the Operations Director of Dublin Town, said data shows "weekends are kind of on par with pre-Covid levels and certain weekends, looking back even for November, are actually trending above what we were in 2019".

Gerry Farrell, Operations Director of Dublin Town

However, he said the levels are "still a little bit down mid-week and that's the change in people's life and work habits, which is understandable".

Mr Farrell said the most recent footfall report for November showed that "we're maybe about 10% down on pre-Covid levels but at certain points we're on par or even exceeding pre-Covid levels, which is a really positive sign".

"The feedback we get from businesses is that there is good customer sentiment, there is spending and people are planning on having an enjoyable Christmas," he added.

While retailers will be hoping an increase in footfall will lead to an increase in sales, the hospitality sector has already seen a bounce back compared to this time last year.

It comes as the hospitality sector says December will be a buoyant month for the industry, boosted by the return of Christmas parties.

Donall O'Keeffe, the Chief Executive of the Licensed Vintners' Association, said: "This time last year we were dealing with table service only, an 8pm closing, no mingling and no bar service.

"This year, we're looking forward to our first proper Christmas in three years. Trade has been really buoyant and the outlook for the next six weeks is fantastic."

Donall O'Keeffe, the Chief Executive of the Licensed Vintners' Association

Mr O'Keeffe said it will be "the first normal Christmas in three years and there's going to be a huge amount of socialising".

"It's everything. It's Christmas parties from companies, it's people getting together, there's families getting together, it's people returning home and it's normal travel."

As a result, he said the LVA is expecting "a very strong December on par with 2019 or maybe perhaps a little bit ahead".

"There is huge pent up demand and I think consumers are going to enjoy this Christmas," he added.