Be prepared to brave crowds in 'busiest shopping hour' on the eve of Christmas Eve

Shops are likely to be the most crowded during Tuesday lunchtime

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The Independent Online

With just over three more shopping days to go, it seems like everyone has the same plan to dodge the Christmas Eve rush as Britain's high streets are likely to be jam-packed the day before during a predicted lunch-time peak.

The busiest hour is expected to fall between 1pm and 2pm on Tuesday in the run-up to Christmas Day – which falls on Thursday this year – with an estimated £15,300 to be spent every second, The Sunday Times reports.

While Christmas Eve on Wednesday is traditionally considered the final chance to buy forgotten gifts, early closing times on the 24 December and the hoards of commuters making their way to visit friends and families are likely to test the patience of even the calmest of last-minute shoppers.

Tuesday also sees shops such as Boots and Foyles, in Westfield shopping centres in London, opening until midnight with the same branches closing as early as 6pm the next day on Christmas Eve.

The next few days also hold the last opportunities to buy festive food and essential supplies, as stores pause for a brief one-day rest, in the aftermath of a string of shopping frenzies collectively planned by retail outlets to maximise profits before some calculate year end takings in January.

Yesterday, on what has been dubbed “Panic Saturday”, shoppers in Britain spent around £1.2 billion with an average of £92 per person rung into tills.

The Centre for Retail Research had predicted that consumers will spend £4.74 billion in stores during the five days before Christmas Day – a 21 per cent increase on last year – which is likely to please retailers before prices are cut in Boxing Day and January sales.

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