Retailers 'delighted' by final rush


Christmas Eve shoppers on Market Street, Manchester

Retailers declared themselves delighted as a last-minute Christmas shopping rush drew to a close and consumers looked forward to days of sales.

Stores enjoyed another hectic day as consumers hampered by bad weather grabbed their last chance to buy for Christmas.

Shops 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.

As trading ended for the day, retailers who have not already started sales readied websites for reductions from midnight tonight and in stores from Boxing Day.

Robert Hall, director of Milton Keynes mall thecentre:mk, said footfall figures were expected to set a new record, adding: “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.”

David Barford, director of selling operations at John Lewis, 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.”

While it may be the last chance to buy before Christmas, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said it was unlikely to top Thursday as many stores had shorter opening hours.

Trade is also expected to boom 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), and Boxing Day spending could top £300 million for the first time.

The figures were backed by payments company Visa Europe, which estimated that 960,000 transactions worth £36 million would 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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