The UK could be making retail history today as analysts predict it is the busiest shopping day ever recorded in the country.
Visa Europe believes that the nation’s shoppers will use its cards to spend over £1m a minute, nearly £18,000 per second – totalling £1.5bn across the day.
The company upholds that the record spend will equate to year-on-year growth of around 8%.
On the other hand, the British Retail Consortium sounded a cautioning note for its members, whom the majority of them are struggling in the midst of a challenging economy.
According to director general Stephen Robertson, “After a late start to Christmas buying, consumers were out on the streets in greater number than for the same week in 2010, although the big question is whether it has translated into enough spending to make up for a largely disappointing year.
“Retailers have been working hard to encourage people into their stores, running exceptionally high levels of promotions and discounts.
Mr Robertson continued: “They will be relieved to see that effort paying off, but for some, the season still hangs in the balance.
“Many sales are being made at the expense of margins and good trading.”
According to some of the big retailers, the so-called ‘man dash’ of men doing last minute shopping is expected to be a major factor.
Despite weather forecasters’ estimates of a mild Christmas, John Lewis has said that the purchases of lingerie, and speciality chocolates had soared at its department stores, with warm pyjamas also being popular.
Retailers have been working hard to inspire customers into their stores, running extraordinarily high levels of promotions and price cut. They will be relieved to see that effort paying off, but for some, the season still hangs in the balance.
According to the director general Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium, Selfridges is expected to see a similar trend, with West End retailers pointing to figures from past years suggesting 80% of men leave their Christmas shopping to till the last minute.
On the other hand, while December 23 may be the biggest shopping day overall, Visa predicts that the busiest shopping hour of the year will be on Christmas Eve between noon and 1pm, in a final flurry of activity before Christmas Day.
A rash of discounts and sales is likely to hit profit margins as stores fight to cajole cash-strapped shoppers through their doors.
According to Shopping comparison website Kelkoo, the average family spend this festive season will be close to £700.
Online sales are expected to soar by about 16% to £13.4bn this Christmas compared to last year, and in comparison to a 2% fall on the high street, according to the report.