Department stores and smaller shops around the country have been open since early morning as the post-Christmas sales begin.

Retail Ireland is forecasting that sales over the Christmas season will top €4.5 billion, up from €4.4bn last year.

The organisation expects that Irish households will spend an average of €2,654 in shops this December, approximately €870 more than any other month of this year and around 2.5% more than last Christmas.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin has announced details of its annual appeal to people who received presents yesterday that they do not need or want.

Staff at St Mary's Pro Cathedral in Dublin will accept unwanted gifts from today until the end of the week.

These will then be passed on to the Crosscare charity, which will redistribute them this time next year to people living in their homeless facilities.  

Yesterday, hundreds of people living in Crosscare's homeless and emergency accommodation received gifts that were donated to the Pro Cathedral after Christmas Day last year.