Thousands of shoppers have been left feeling left out of the Christmas shopping frenzy after supermarkets across the country closed for the festive season.
The closures are the latest in a series of “economic shock” measures that have seen the economy shrink by more than a fifth since last year.
They include the closure of almost all the country’s big-name chains, with only Aldi remaining.
There are fears that, with the economy at a standstill, the number of shoppers will also drop and that the retailers could struggle to survive on the cheap.
Many shoppers, especially in the north of Ireland, are concerned about the impact the measures will have on their jobs and incomes.
Some are now considering calling in sick to shop for Christmas, but others are planning to stay home.
“It’s a bit of a shock, a bit crazy,” said a 40-year-old who does not want to be named.
“I’m going to work and then I’ll go home and cry.
I’ve got a job, I have a family, I live in a house and I’ve got to put that money away for Christmas.
If you’ve got kids, I’m not sure how they’re going to be able to afford that.”
It is understood that there were no major disruptions to the economy during the last quarter of last year, but that a number of retailers have recently decided to close for the Christmas period.
One of the biggest retailers, Marks & Spencer, has closed its flagship store in Dublin and has decided to suspend operations for the holiday season.
The company, which has a huge presence in the country, has announced it will reopen only the next day in a larger, more open store in Co Carlow.
The company said it would also stop stocking Christmas food in the city.
It said that while the retailer’s stock had been available at the Co Carlown site for some time, the decision to suspend stock on Christmas Day meant it had to suspend its distribution.
The retailer said it was not planning to close its main branch at the Royal Dublin hospital, but it is not likely to be open for Christmas as the closure would disrupt its operations.
“Marks & Spencer will be making every effort to reopen in Co Galway on December 26th,” a spokesman said.
“As soon as we can, we will do so.”
Marks and Spencer said it had been in talks with the Irish Retail Consortium and other suppliers about the possibility of resuming business.
It said it planned to keep stocking Christmas products in the stores, and would be opening a wider range of goods.
“We have to consider the impact on our workforce, and our suppliers and customers, as we transition to a new season,” the spokesman said, adding that it was in discussions with the suppliers about what options were available.
Marks said it has not received any formal orders from customers about the closures.
The spokesman said that the closures were “an incredibly stressful time” for customers, with some retailers having had to close because of “financial constraints”.
“It is a significant blow to our customers,” he said.
Marks is one of the world’s biggest retailers.
Its flagship store, in Dublin, is the largest in the world.
It has a turnover of more than €2 billion ($2.5 billion).
It has about 8,000 employees.
Earlier this month, the Irish Government imposed a blanket ban on stocking Christmas gifts for two weeks in the face of a sharp fall in the economy.
Irish Retail Consortium chief executive, Noel Dolan, said the ban was designed to ensure that consumers were not “left out” of the shopping holiday.
In a statement, he said it did not cover the food industry.
“The Retail Council of Ireland has recently recommended a blanket blanket ban for two week periods, to provide a level playing field for the market.
This is not intended to cover food or drink, or other consumer goods,” he added.