Christmas is where we loosen our normally tight belts a little bit, and it seems this year we'll be doing it in more ways than one. 

According to projections for this Christmas, Irish consumers look set to dig deep in to their pockets this Christmas, exchange the money for food, and then spend several weeks busily shovelling it in to our greedy, greedy faces to celebrate Saturnalia/Christmas/Hanukkah/your holiday of choice this year.

Webloyalty are predicting that consumers will spend €528 million on food and drink this Christmas, up 3.6% from 2013, and there are a few findings that stand out from the crowd in this year's numbers: 

· Over 3 in 4 plan to spend up to €20 per person on Christmas dinner

· The majority plan to shop in-store for food as opposed to online

· Boxes of chocolates, biscuits and festive drinks such as Baileys deemed essential Christmas purchases

· 5% plan to tuck into steak on Christmas Day 

77.3% of Irish people are planning that the dinner on the big day will cost over €20 per person, while although we do a lot of our shopping online these days, just over 70% of us say that we're going to do it in store instead. When it comes to which shop we choose, the discount retailers such as Lidl and Aldi are not at the top of the tree, despite their overall popularity with Irish consumers. Instead, we look set to push the (gravy) boat out a bit and head to Tesco (25.4%), followed closely by Dunnes (23.1%), SuperValu (21.9%) and Marks and Spencer (19.2%). Only 7.6% say they plan to shop in Lidl and 8.9% intend to food shop in Aldi.

Seasonal items are a must-have for most shoppers too, as almost half (47.2%) say a Christmas-themed box of chocolates, such as Roses or Quality Street, is an essential purchase for the festive season, while a third (32.3%) say Christmas tins of biscuits will be in their trolleys. 27.9% say seasonal alcoholic beverages such as Baileys and eggnog are on their Christmas shopping list too.

Unsurprisingly the traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings is the most commonly eaten food at Christmas while 5% of people plan to tuck into steak on 25th December. No word on whether or not these people are disowned by their families afterwards or not, however. Other popular items include Christmas pudding (44.3%), mince pies (44.3%), Christmas cake (35.9%) and smoked salmon (11.2%).

Main pic via Juliette Culver/Flickr