Trend to continue and break Eu40bn by 2010
The amount spent by shoppers in Ireland has rocketed 30 per cent to Eu35.1 billion (£23.7 billion) since 1999 and is set to continue at this pace until at least 2010, breaking the Eu40 billion (£27 billion) barrier.

This was the key finding of a study by research company Euromonitor, which also revealed that, like the UK, spending through internet and home shopping has boomed with an increase of 93 per cent since 2000.

The report said that the burgeoning Irish retail market was a result of gross domestic product growing at 6 per cent in the last year - the highest level for six years.

It added that the key growth areas had been 'department stores, furniture, lighting and hardwear retailers in particular -as increased disposable incomes are being invested into home improvements'.

As a result, retailers added 2,690,975 sq ft (250,000 sq m) of shopping centre floor space last year - an increase of 17 per cent on the previous year.

Following the recent relaxation of planning restrictions on maximum store sizes, DIY stores have led this expansion and have doubled in size since 2003.