Ireland will again lead Christmas household spending in Europe this year, despite the recession. Britons plan to spend €803 on average and the French €518.
The average Irish household spend this Christmas will be €1,354, with €688 set to be spent on gifts, €422 on food and €264 on socialising, according to an annual survey by Big 4 accounting firm Deloitte.
The planned average is 5.3% below the 2007 survey figure.
"Last year, the survey found that consumers were still willing to spend despite a gloomier outlook on the economy. This year, that outlook has deteriorated even further, and the purse strings are finally being pulled tight," said Deloitte's Susan Birrell.
In a sign of increased price sensitivity among shoppers, some 60% of the 672 Irish people surveyed said they would be spending more time this year looking for the best price.
Some 40% of Europeans plan to limit their end-of-year spending on gifts, while half of them will budget their shopping this year, up from a third in 2007, Deloitte said.
Some 60% of those surveyed also anticipate lower purchasing power next year.
"2008 can be expected to mark a significant change in end-of-year spending in Europe," Deloitte said in a statement.
"Retailers can expect lower sales levels than in recent years."
In Eastern Europe consumers are more optimistic, with 66% saying they remain optimistic about economic prospects.
The survey found that 53% of French consumers expected to buy fewer Christmas presents than in previous years, with two-thirds of those surveyed feeling that their spending power has been declining.
Deloitte estimated that Christmas spending could be down 6.7% to €518.