Christmas Eve shopping: More than £800m set to be spent in last dash for presents

Half of Britons have left some of their festive shopping till the last minute

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The Independent Online

Half of British adults have left it till the last minute to finish their seasonal shopping, with more than £800 million expected to be spent in shops on Christmas Eve.

According to a survey for Sainsbury's Bank, 11 per cent of the week's shopping will take place in the final hours of trading - which is half as many as last year.

There may be less shopping but there will be more people, with 23.6 million costumers expected today up from the 17.5 million last year who spent roundabout £832 million.

Simon Ranson, head of banking at Sainsbury's Bank, said: "It appears that fewer people are leaving all of their shopping to the last minute. However our research shows there could be a rising number who are hitting the shops for one or two further gifts or last-minute items."


John Lewis, which reported sales improving as Christmas approached, said customers are this year choosing to leave it late.

Andrew Murphy, John Lewis retail director, said: "Last week we said it's all to play for and that is still absolutely the case as we have seen a building trend of customers leaving their gift purchases right up until the last minute.

"Busy though our shops have been over the past week, it's only in these final pre-Christmas days that many customers are finally moving to complete their gift buying and other purchases.

"Consequently our partners are standing ready for a very busy final trading day before the festive break."

Central London's Fenwick has even set up a popular pop-up gifting service that helps the "last minute man" to find the perfect gifts in just a few minutes, right up until 5pm tonight.

More than 10 bottles of Chanel No5 sold every hour on Monday via the service, as the deadline fast approached.

David Walker-Smith, managing director at Fenwick of Bond Street, said: "We understand how men like to shop, and the guarantee of finding something fabulous in a short space of time has provided considerable relief at what can be a stressful time of year for shoppers.

"We expect a further leap in sales of vintage Chanel handbags, statement jewellery and classic fragrances in the final 24 hours before the big day."

The New West End Company is predicting £20 million will go through the tills today across the West End, with retailers extending their hours to as late as 8pm.

The Co-operative has said that the last-minute shopping list is most likely to include fizzy drink, lemons and limes, a selection box, prosecco and mince pies.

Andrew Mann, customer director for The Co-operative Food said: "We are expecting intense trading in the last few hours before Christmas as people re-stock or seek last-minute items.

"On average consumers will shop for food every day in the five days leading up to Christmas as fresh lines become available in store."

Additional reporting by Press Association