Christmas Eve 'will be no second Super Saturday for stores'
Struggling retailers could be about to suffer a sorry Christmas Eve as figures suggest consumers will spend significantly less than last year on one of the calendar's busiest shopping days.
Shoppers will spend £726m on Christmas Eve tomorrow, according to Sainsbury's Bank credit cards - a significant drop from last year's poll in which consumers said they expected to splash out £1.4bn.
The findings will be especially troubling for retailers hoping for a bonanza Saturday after Christmas Eve last year fell on a Thursday.
The festive season's last full day of shopping falling on a Saturday should have been perfect timing for stores, which have seen their margins squeezed between rising business costs and consumer demand for rock-bottom prices.
Supermarkets expect today to be their busiest shopping day, however, and the Westfield mall in west London also predicts footfall will hit a peak of more than 300,000 people ahead of the weekend.
But the Sainsbury's poll found that Christmas shoppers' total spending over this week will reach just £191 each, significantly down from last year's figure of £272.
Westfield said this year "boasts the added benefit of Christmas Eve falling on a Saturday" in what it hoped would allow for "two Super Saturdays".
Myf Ryan, chief marketing officer at Westfield UK and Europe, said: "With Christmas Eve falling on a Saturday, December 24 is expected to be a second Super Saturday for Britain's retailers. Last year the pre-Christmas Super Saturday was one of our busiest shopping days of the year, with close to 300,000 people passing through the doors of our London centres." And Ms Ryan added: "December 23 has also become our biggest Christmas shopping day with over 300,000 visiting Westfield in 2015 and we expect similar numbers again this year."
Meanwhile, post-Christmas shoppers are predicted to go on a £3.85m bargain hunt on Boxing Day, spending £2.95bn on the high street and another £900m online, according to VoucherCodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research.
Shoppers are expected to spend £7.6bn between Boxing Day and December 29, with 67% of this going into high street tills.
VoucherCodes managing director Claire Davenport said: "Consumer appetite for deals remains stronger than ever, with billions set to be spent in-store and on the high street between Boxing Day and New Year.
"Although the high street is still the favourite for discount shoppers, online spend is steadily increasing year on year."
Retailers in Northern Ireland - and particular in border locations such as Newry, Co Down, and Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh - will also be hoping for a strong uplift in visitors from the Republic, drawn to shop over the border by the weaker value of sterling.