Brits are expected to splash out up to £1.4bn as they flock to the high street this Saturday in a last-minute Christmas spending spree.
Fresh analysis by payments processor Worldpay predicts high street retailers could be at least 45 per cent busier than on an average weekend as shoppers panic-buy gifts and pick up grocery store provisions for a Christmas feast.
Retailers are pinning their hopes on a pre-Christmas rush due to lacklustre spending in the beginning of the month following a cold snap.
James Frost, UK chief marketing officer of Worldpay, said the chilly weather and the fact that Christmas falls on a Monday this year will be the "double whammy" to fuel a last-minute rush to the shops.
“The 23rd December is always one of the busiest shopping days of the year, but in other years a lot of that spending will come from food and grocery as people get ready for a Christmas Day feast.
“The way Christmas has fallen this year however, added to the impact of the recent cold snap, which saw many consumers stay at home, means shoppers are far more likely to take things right to the wire when it comes to buying gifts. The overall result of this is a kind of 'double whammy' effect, which should contribute to an extraordinary day of spending," Frost said.
Worldpay expects supermarkets and grocery stores to rake in £631m, while department stores are set to take as much as £113m and clothing and footwear stores up to £90m.
Still no rosy picture for consumer confidence
The figures come despite UK consumer confidence falling in December.
GfK's long-running index found consumer confidence dropped one point to -13 in December from the previous month. The overall index score has slipped from -7 in January, and Joe Staton, head of marketing dynamics at GfK noted that the index had not been in positive territory for nearly two years.
A report published yesterday by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) pointed to "decent", but weaker than expected sales heading into the key Christmas trading period.
The survey found retail sales rose in the year to December, building on solid performance in November and in line with seasonal norms, but retail sales and orders both disappointed expectations of somewhat stronger growth.
“Notwithstanding the sales growth seen in the last couple of months, underlying trading conditions are tough for retailers," said Alpesh Paleja, CBI principal economist.
"We expect the squeeze on real pay for households to last a while longer, so retailers will still face challenging conditions ahead."
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