Retailers up and down the country were bracing themselves for “super Saturday”, as shoppers hit the high streets for the last weekend before Christmas.
Millions are expected to brave the wintry weather to grab bargains on the high street or head to shopping centres to pick up the last few items on their lists.
With savings to be made before a January hike in VAT, and many deliveries for online customers falling victim to the snow, shops are hoping for a bumper day at the checkouts.
Jace Tyrrell, from the New West End Company which represents retailers in Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street in London, said: “This weekend will be one of the biggest of the year for West End retailers.
“Going back through the data from the last Christmas that fell on a Saturday in 2004, forecasts are for a super Saturday with over 1.2 million shoppers expected this weekend and £130 million going through the tills.”
Snow showers are due to hit central London but that won’t deter the bargain-hunters, Mr Tyrell said, insisting: “The blitz sprit will be alive in the West End as shoppers are expected to brave snowy conditions and stock up on final gifts.
He added: “Retailers are reporting strong demand for toys, technology items and fashion accessories. Stores have already started offering shoppers some incredible bargains with up to 70% off in some stores starting this weekend.”
The Trafford Centre in Manchester is hoping for record sales, with around 140,000 people expected, spread over an extended 12-hour shopping day. Each shopper is predicted to spend around £150.
Gordon McKinnon, director of operations, said: “Bad weather over the last few weeks has kept some people away from the shops but customers now clearly realise there are only a few days to go, and have to catch up with their shopping. In addition, the weather has affected online deliveries, so we expect a lot of shoppers to buy their last-minute gifts in person this weekend. We are a warm and dry destination, which is a very attractive option when the weather is bad.
“Many shoppers will be targeting the big-ticket items such as electronics and homeware, before the VAT increase takes affect in the new year. We are also expecting continued strong sales across gifts, toys and games, and of course partywear for the festive season.”