Belfast Telegraph

Shoppers tipped to put £2.6bn on cards during 'Panic Saturday'

Shoppers are expected to put £2.6 billion on their cards on "Panic Saturday" as millions hit the high street during the last full weekend before Christmas.

High streets will be at least 45% busier than usual on Saturday and footfall in major department stores is expected to increase by 127%, according to payments processor Worldpay.

Saturday is expected to kick off a £17.6 billion week-long spending spree on cards ahead of Christmas Day next Sunday, with card spending expected to reach more than £3 billion on Friday December 23.

James Frost, chief marketing and commercial officer at Worldpay UK, said: "Christmas is the only time of the year that we convince ourselves it's okay to overspend and our latest data suggests trading in the run-up to Christmas could be up by as much as 7% compared to 2015.

"For retailers this means putting more staff on the shop floor to offer advice, locate items and take payments, alleviating pressure from the tills as customers queue to purchase items and making the shopping experience painless even at the busiest of times."

ShopperTrak's National Retail Index suggests that footfall on Saturday will be up by 27.7% on the daily Saturday average, an earlier rush to the high street than last year as shoppers start to shift from "clicks to bricks".

But it names Tuesday for peak shopper footfall, later than last year due to the rise of click and collect and increased consumer confidence in later fulfilment before the Christmas cut off delivery dates.

ShopperTrak director Steve Richardson said: "In the past two years we have seen the move from online to in-store shopping take place on the last Monday before Christmas as consumers take to the high street to finish their festive shopping, fuelled by fears of Christmas deliveries not arriving in time for the big day.

"With the rise of click-and-collect, and as consumer confidence in next day fulfilment of online orders has risen, shoppers are more confident in leaving gift buying even closer to the cut off delivery dates."

Meanwhile, 10 million Britons are expected to spend £894 million on Friday next week - £865,158 a minute - in a last-minute dash for gifts and Christmas food on the day many receive their last pay of the year, VoucherCodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research said.

More than four million are planning to shop online, the majority of whom are in London and are placing their faith in guaranteed one-hour or next-day delivery services, according to the report.

Claire Davenport, managing director of VoucherCodes.co.uk, said: "Shoppers should be prepared for very busy stores as our research predicts there will be 8.7 million British shoppers scouring the high street for last minute presents on December 23."

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