Last Minute Online Christmas Shopping?

h&m queue

The countdown has officially started, the madness has begun. Irish households spend more on Christmas shopping than any other country in Europe, and a surprising number of people have crossed everyone off their list by December 1st: 47%, according to a recent survey. The biggest challenge as we get closer to the big day is making sure that your presents will be delivered on time…

great ideas and speedy delivery

If your head is spinning and you don’t know where to start, a few sites have stepped into the breach to offer you ideas. Giftgenies.com is basically a very specialized search engine, letting you search for the perfect present by parameters like cost, relationship, occasion and category, from hundreds of sites all over the Internet. Just make sure to check out the specific delivery details for each site you end up visiting. Gifts.ie is another great site for ideas, and you can purchase from them directly. They even have affordable next-day and same-day courier delivery, which just might save the day.

delicious gifts

Hampers are a fantastic last minute gift for just about anyone. IrishHampers.ie does what it says on the tin, specialising in local and artisan products, with a flat delivery fee for anywhere in Ireland. Try a basket full of their craft beers for the hard-to-buy-for-guy in your life. MyHamper.com is a British company which delivers to Ireland and boasts some very special features. You can customise a wooden box with your own image and message, and then virtually “fill” it yourself, choosing from a wide range of treats, gifts, and beverages. A handy bar at the top of the screen lets you know how full your hamper is getting, while a running tally on the side shows you what you’re spending as you go. It’s a brilliant way to craft a very personalised gift.

it’s the morning of Christmas Eve and you’re panicking

If you’ve truly left it to the very last minute, you still have online options. Interflora takes Christmas orders until 11 am on Christmas eve, and you can order floral arrangements, chocolates, and even wine and champagne online to be delivered right to their doorsteps, without having to brave the crazed crowds in the shops. Vouchers are a perennial favourite, and when you go with the virtual version, you can deliver it instantly. Easons is a quick and easy option for your favourite bookworm, while GreatDaysOut.ie offers everything from adventure to spa weekends, with a range of instant e-voucher options.

So take a deep breath, write yourself a list, and get started! Get it done today!

Sources:
Irish Times

Ryanair set for Moscow

domodedovo airport

Irish no-frills operator Ryanair has been granted permission to start flying various Russian routes from March next year.

Rosaviatsia, Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency allows Ryanair to start regular flights from Dublin to Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Ryanair’s spokesman Robin Kiely stated that the company is in talks with a number of airports as potential destinations in the near future. According to the Irish Times, “Ryanair has had discussions with a number of Russian airports, but they are purely exploratory”.

The company’s follows its competitors Wizz Air and EasyJet, who both entered the Russian market earlier this year. EasyJet began serving flights between Moscow Domededovo and Gatwick in March, before adding a second route from Manchester two weeks later.
Hungarian WizzAir added flights to Moscow Vnukovo airport on its flight schedule in September.

Russia’s largest airline OAO Aeroflot announced plans to establish a discount unit of its own recently to compete with the discount specialists.
Their $100 million investment and local advantage should give them an advantage over the foreign cost-cutters.

Source: Irish Times

Shopping and the Silly Season: Christmas Markets and Festivals

The weather has certainly turned, and as we light the fires and pull out our wooliest jumpers, our minds are almost ready to consider the Christmas season waiting in the wings. In the next weeks, the shopping will begin in earnest, online, in toy shops, and throughout major retailers across the country. Some people face the chore with dread, but it doesn’t have to be a slog. In the past few years, Christmas markets and festivals have been popping up in towns and cities around Ireland, all vying to bring some of the magic back into the Christmas shopping experience, adding food, fun, music and special events to the expected stalls and shops. The Complete Savings blog has taken a look at this year’s biggest and best Christmas shopping events and what you can expect.

international flavour and a taste of the continent

The classic Christmas Market has its origins in the German-speaking areas of Europe in the Late Middle Ages, and the traditional attractions of these open-air markets remain much the same hundreds of years later. The town square market pattern has been successfully repeated all over the world, and Ireland is no exception. The Galway Continental Christmas Market takes up a month-long full-time residency of Eyre Square for the 4th year, from November 22nd through to December 22nd. Bavarian-style wooden chalets hold gifts and handicrafts from all over the world, along with food, candy, and delicious hot drinks. The large German Bierkeller in the center of the square serves up big mugs of beer to thirsty shoppers, while a funfair, children’s workshops, and a music stage offer entertainment for the whole family. In Dublin, the Docklands Christmas Festival makes the most of the last weeks before the big day with its own take on the tradition. Craft stalls, mulled wine, Victorian fairground rides, and stage performances every night make this a great family shopping destination. It takes place on St. George’s Dock and the surrounding area from December 12th until December 23. If you’d like to start your shopping a little earlier, the Dún Laoghaire Christmas Festival begins November 30th, and runs through Christmas up until the 1st of January. Vendors offer their wares from rustic log cabins, and fun activities and attractions include treasure hunts on the weekend, Santa’s Grotto, and even a spectacular fireworks show at the opening ceremony.

christmas tourism draws

The importance of Christmas markets and festivals goes beyond an alternative shopping experience. Ireland’s robust tourism industry is strongest in the warmer months, but the country has been growing in popularity as a Christmas destination as well. Several Irish festivals are doing their part to put the country on the map with more traditionally popular places such as Lapland, New York, and Germany. Waterford’s huge Winterval festival takes place at heritage sites across the city from November 29th until December 31st, with a huge range of offerings beginning with Santa’s arrival on a wooden viking ship, and including a Christmas train, free Christmas movies with hot chocolate and Gluhwein, a busy Christmas market, and dozens of other free and ticketed events all month. Organisers are expecting half a million visitors this year. In Kerry, Christmas in Killarney makes the most of the nostalgic draw of Bing Crosby’s song, inviting locals and tourists alike to enjoy the charm and beauty of the area, which won RTE’s Best Christmas Town in 2011. Late-night Christmas shopping is a huge draw, along with an array of special treats and events, including traditional market stalls, a parade, and much more. November 29th will mark the official Christmas lights ceremony, kicking off a season of festivities which will last until the new year.

This is only a small taste of the Christmas shopping events in store for Ireland this year. So if you’d like to try a different approach to your gift buying, mixed with a bit of family fun, take some time to explore what your town has to offer, or bundle up and head out on an adventure to one of the landmark festivals throughout the country. As the Christmas countdown continues, the Complete Savings blog will bring you the latest news and information you need for a fun and easy holiday season.

Sources:
ChristmasMarkets.com
Winterval.ie
DiscoverIreland.ie

Effect of the black market on the Irish economy

black market cigarettes

Source: independent.ie

Recently, Retail Ireland published an in-depth report on the extent of the black market trade in this country and the estimated impact it’s having on the legitimate Irish economy. The report offered some suggestions about how the government could improve its response to the threat, particularly addressing measures which they recommended for the 2014 budget. Today, the Complete Savings blog takes a look at the black market, its effects on consumers, and how the government is responding.

shady dealings undermine recovery

Ireland’s black market is enormous, and its impact is greatest in the high-revenue arenas of fuel, pharmaceuticals, entertainment, tobacco, and counterfeit products. Spurred on by the financial squeeze of recent economic turmoil, it’s also a major obstacle in the road to economic recovery.The estimated loss to the Irish exchequer is at least €800m a year, a staggering number, especially as we face down the newest round of painful cuts introduced in Budget 2014. When you take into account that the “shadow market” is largely controlled by criminal gangs, the true cost to Ireland as a society is bleak.

keeping retail prices reasonable

For the vast majority of Irish people who have no dealings with the mysterious black market, the consequences may seem remote. Not so.The sad truth is that in the long run it’s always the innocent consumer who picks up the tab for the shortfall caused by these shady practices. It’s a vicious cycle: the shortfall in tax revenue puts more pressure on the government to increase taxes, hitting retailers hard and driving up the price disparity between legal and illegal products. As retailers struggle to protect profits and jobs in the sector, customers once again face rising prices across the board.

breaking the cycle: what will we see in 2014?

While the announced budget measures this week fall short of fulfilling all the recommendations given by Retail Ireland, Finance Minister Michael Noonan outlined several new initiatives aimed at cracking down on illegal trading. He said that the actions are designed to help “legitimate and compliant businesses” who are put “at a competitive disadvantage” by the black market. Cigarettes, alcohol, and fuel were singled out for special scrutiny, with customs officers being given power to search anyone “reasonably believed” to be transporting contraband tobacco and cigarettes. Customs officers may also seize any alcohol products which are found on unlicensed premises. In an attempt to crack down on diesel laundering, any fuel supplier found supplying marked diesel to those with no “legitimate use for it” will lose their trader’s licence. Mr Noonan estimated that these measures should save an extra €20m each year.

It may seem like a drop in the bucket when measure against the scale of the black market problem, but any boost to the economy is good news for consumers.

Sources:
Retail Ireland
IBEC.ie
Irish News.com

Buying at Broadband Speeds (In the Real World): Click and Collect in Ireland

In the past, there has often been a tension between the easy and value of shopping online (and then waiting for delivery) and the relative speed of running to the shop to pick up what you need when you need it. Consumers and retailers alike have wrestled with the dilemma of balancing convenience, savings, and expediency between the two, the Complete Savings Blog has taken a look at the growing “Click and Collect” services springing up in Ireland. Offering the best of both worlds, this is one consumer trend that’s catching on quickly.

electronics, almost instantly

Dixons, Ireland’s largest electronic retailer, announced the launch of its new one hour click and collect facility this month. The international electrics and white goods giant operates both Currys and PC World here in Ireland. By the end of October, Irish shoppers will be able to browse the websites for everything from computers to washing machines, reserve their order online, and the pay for and collect their purchases from any of the company’s 28 stores across the country. Comparison shopping is especially important and rewarding in the electronics and appliances market, so this is a wonderful way for shoppers to be sure they’ve gotten the best specs and the best deal before ever stepping a foot outside.

Argos and eBay partnering up

Argos was one of the pioneers in the Click and Collect revolution, launching their service all the way back in 2000. eBay has been the undisputed king of online bargain hunting from the relatively early days of the internet. Between them, they have a massive customer base, and this year they are joining together to try something new. A six month pilot program will see selected eBay merchants and Argos locations working together to bring shoppers their purchases in the blink of an eye. Their combined might will give Amazon (their main competitor) a run for its money this holiday season. While the program is limited to the UK and Northern Ireland for the moment, if it lives up to expectations we can expect a quick expansion.

beyond consumer goods

It’s not just your new TV, fridge, or coffee table. Retailers and service providers of all types are hustling to jump on the bandwagon. from garden centres to grocers and from fashion outlets to foreign currency. That’s right: you can now order whatever currency you need for your holiday online, and then collect it at the airport on your way out! Cutting out one more tedious bank errand is a huge boon when you’re trying to get organized for a holiday, so we’re hoping this movement expands and continues.

Anything which simplifies our lives and saves us time and money is a big hit with the Complete Savings Blog, so we’ll be keeping our eyes open for new developments in online shopping to share with all our readers.

Sources:
Retail-Week.com
Independent.ie
Ice-Ireland.ie