Only 14 shopping days - and nights - left until Christmas

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The Independent Online
This Christmas you can go right off your trolley. Two big supermarket chains have announced all-night opening in the final seasonal rush. For those who like to leave stuffing their basket to the very last moment, Safeway and Asda are opening some of their stores all day and night up to Christmas Eve.

It is the latest move in a battle between supermarkets for shoppers' loyalty - following singles' nights, pensioners' happy hours and blokes' nights to help men who are panicking about what to buy their partners for Christmas.

A spokeswoman for Tesco said yesterday that the group was also considering opening some of its stores for non-stop shopping, among other options. In fact, it is known that some of the larger Tesco stores in the South have already drawn up plans for 24-hour opening.

Sainsbury, Somerfield and Waitrose have decided against 24-hour opening, contenting themselves instead with extended hours. A spokeswoman for Sainsbury said that stores would be open until 10pm on Monday 23 December. "We have experience of all-night shopping in America but we didn't feel that there would be the level of customer demand to justify staying open all night in Britain," she said.

Safeway's open-all-hours policy is billed as a way of avoiding Christmas queues. Its stores in Brent Cross, in north London, and Edinburgh will for the first time be open for more than 33 hours continuously - from 8.30am on Monday 23 December to 6pm on Christmas Eve. The first 50 festive customers after midnight will be given a free warming cup of tea and a mince pie. No doubt they will need it to keep their stamina up.

Asda, which started the trend by opening around the clock last year, plans to keep trading in four stores right up until midnight strikes on Christmas Eve. The stores which will be open for 40 hours non-stop will be Clapham, south London; Edinburgh; Patchway in Bristol; and Watford.