Last-minute shopping frenzy begins
Stores were filled with a "mad man rush" on Christmas Eve as male shoppers frantically raced against time to pick up last-minute gifts.
In central London, three-quarters of those hitting the shops were men, according to a spokesman for the New West End Company, which represents 600 retailers across Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street.
The tills were ringing particularly furiously at the lingerie and perfume counters as men bought gifts for wives and girlfriends.
The spokesman said: "There has been a last-minute surge, although we always knew it would be busy. We're expecting to have had 400,000 people.
"The lingerie and perfume counters are heaving. One of the Dior counters said they had their first sale just 13 seconds after opening. There are also a lot of people at the Marks and Spencer and John Lewis food counters, where people seem to be panic-buying."
He said lots of items were heavily discounted so that stores can clear their shelves for the sales. "It's definitely been a shopper's market," he added.
Busy scenes were also reported at Bluewater shopping centre in Kent, where total footfall between December 20 and 24 was expected to be around 750,000.
A spokeswoman for the centre said there was also a heavy male presence at the site, with the gift wrapping service being particularly popular.
Thousands of shoppers were also expected to descend on Manchester's Trafford Centre, with more than 600 buses having been arriving daily to deliver shoppers from all over the north of England in the run-up to the big day.
Some serious shopping is expected to continue on Christmas Day, however, with e-retail association Interactive Media in Retail Group forecasting that consumers would spend £186.4 million online, with the Boxing Day spend expected to be almost double that at £367.8 million, up 12% on last year.