Hectic Christmas Eve for retailers

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Christmas shoppers in Leeds City Centre purchase last minute gifts

Retailers are enjoying another hectic day as consumers hampered by bad weather grab their last chance to buy for Christmas.

Stores were prepared for panic-buying on the high street after the worst winter weather in 100 years forced many to postpone shopping trips in the run-up to Christmas Day.

Some retailers have already started sales, most of them online, with many more promising huge reductions via their websites from midnight.

Robert Hall, director of Milton Keynes mall thecentre:mk, said the 23rd’s footfall figures topped last year’s peak, with a new record expected for Christmas Eve.

He said: “This is a crucial time for retailers, and with so many shoppers disappointed by delivery of their online goods, and considering the impact of the weather earlier this week, it is no surprise that shoppers are out in their droves and spending well.”

John Lewis said it expected another busy day following “strong footfall” on the 23rd. David Barford, director of selling operations, said: “We predict more of the same right up to the end of shopping hours on Christmas Eve. This is largely driven by the last-minute nature of many male customers.”

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said Christmas Eve is unlikely to top the 23rd, as many stores have shorter opening hours. Spokeswoman Sarah Cordey said: “After the disruption of December, retailers will be hoping that all of this week they have very good business. For people who couldn’t get out last weekend, a lot of offices are closed on Christmas Eve so there’s definitely an opportunity for them to get out and do some Christmas shopping.”

Trade could also be booming for retailers on Christmas Day itself as analysts predict shoppers could spend more than £150 million online for the first time this year.

An estimated 4.8 million people are expected to spend around £153 million on the day, according to the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) – with Boxing Day spending expected to top £300 million for the first time.

The figures are backed by payments company Visa Europe, which estimates that 960,000 transactions worth £36 million will be made on Visa cards alone on Christmas Day, with Visa transactions accounting for more than £1 in every £4 spent.

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