Christmas presents should be nestling under the tree by now, or at least wrapped up and ready to go.
But those who haven’t quite got to that stage are far from being alone, as the UK is readying itself for a frenetic weekend of spending.
Those who’ve left it down to the wire have ‘Panic Thursday’ and ‘Frenzied Friday’ to look forward to; not to mention the more appealingly named ‘Super Saturday’ on which to bail themselves out with last-minute gifts.
Despite the continued rise in online shopping, millions of people are predicted to have left things right to the wire, with footfall predicted to jump 60 per cent on Thursday and 37 per cent on Friday. Saturday is likely to be the busiest shopping day of the year with a huge 63 per cent jump on the daily average, according to retail data company ShopperTrak.
British shoppers are set to splash up to £1.4bn on credit and debit cards on the day, payment processing firm Worldpay said. It expects to handle 49,000 card transactions every minute as department stores’ tills ring to the tune of £113m while fashion retailers take in £90m. Supermarkets will be the biggest financial beneficiaries of the Christmas cheer, collecting £631m. Overall we are predicted to spend a staggering £12.2bn in the week running up to Christmas Eve.
This means shopping centres are set for a hectic final weekend before the festive break. Westfield expects to beat the 600,000 people who passed through the doors of its two London centres on last year’s Super Saturday.
“This year, shoppers have double the opportunity with a full weekend of shopping as Christmas Day falls on Monday,” said Myf Ryan, chief marketing officer of Westfield UK and Europe.
“We’re expecting to see one of our busiest shopping weekends of the year as people take advantage of Super Saturday and Sunday.”
The extra shopping day, combined with bitterly cold weather that kept many people at home last week could result in a ‘double whammy’ effect, which should contribute to “extraordinary” spending, said James Frost, CMO at Worldpay UK.
This is likely to weigh heavily on squeezed household budgets. In excess of a third of Brits report that they are more sensitive to prices than this time last year, but they still plan to spend a quarter of their December pay on Christmas, according to a survey by FedEx.
Despite evidence to the contrary, it seems we at least like to think of ourselves as well-prepared. A recent survey by data provider SAS found that just 16 per cent of people said they would do any shopping at all in the final week and only 4 per cent predicted they would have to dash to the shops on Christmas Eve.