RETAILERS are anticipating their busiest day of the year today with many stores staying open until midnight to meet the demand from Christmas shoppers.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said much of the last-minute Christmas rush would take place today, as workers began their festive break with a dash for gifts.
According to credit and debit card firm Visa, more than £100 million will be spent on its cards alone in Scotland, with the number of transactions expected to peak between 1pm and 2pm.
Dubbed “Mega Monday”, it follows a weekend which saw 1.5 million Scottish shoppers spend more than £320m.
Analysis by the Centre for Retail Research showed £113m was spent in Scotland yesterday as those who had left it late began to make their purchases.
About £210m is thought to have been spent on Saturday, based on BRC analysis showing £235m and £210m were spent on the last Saturdays before Christmas in 2012 and 2011 respectively.
The Braehead centre, near Glasgow, opened 30 minutes earlier than the scheduled 9am on Saturday to accommodate queues of shoppers outside.
Braehead and Glasgow’s Silverburn centre were expected to have had 170,000 weekend shoppers through their doors – with about 100,000 on Saturday and 70,000 yesterday.
Union Square in Aberdeen was expected to have seen 140,000 over the weekend – 80,000 on Saturday and 60,000 yesterday.
Silverburn reported footfall last week up 20 per cent year-on-year, while Union Square was up eight per cent on 2012.
However, the busiest day at the tills is expected to be today, with retailers predicting a rush from those who are beginning their time away from work.
BRC spokeswoman Mandy Ryan said: “Much of the last-minute spending rush will spill into Monday, with many now off work and using their time to finalise shopping.”
Jeremy Nicholds, director of Visa Europe, added: “We predict Monday will be the busiest shopping day of the year.”
Visa said it expected £101m to be spent on its cards in Scotland today, with 2.6 million trans- actions peaking between 1pm and 2pm.
Experts said the weekend spending spree was triggered by Friday’s pay-day, shoppers splashing out after UK-wide footfall fell 2.9 per cent in November, and stores’ pre-Christmas sales offering up to 75 per cent off.
Three in four shops now have sales on, analysts at PriceWaterhouseCoopers said.
House of Fraser has cut toy prices by up to 75 per cent, with 60 per cent off at Gap and stores offering up to 50 per cent off, including Marks & Spencer, Dorothy Perkins, Clarks, Laura Ashley, H&M, Ann Summers, Guess, Jaeger, French Connection, Mango and Banana Republic.
The BRC said Christmas big sellers included games, technology, cooking gadgets and books.
Braehead’s general manager (operations) Gary Turnbull said: “This has been the busiest weekend of the year for Braehead and people were still shopping at midnight on Saturday.
“On a night when normally people are out with their friends in pubs and clubs we were very busy up to 10:30pm and then there were the really keen shoppers who were buying Christmas presents right up to when we closed at midnight.
“I expect the same will be the case today.
“We’ve had to bring in extra staff to direct shoppers to one of our 6,500 car parking spaces and also to work on our customer services desk.”
David Pierotti, general manager of Silverburn, added: “We’ve been really busy and the mall atmosphere is full of Christmas cheer.”
Meanwhile, food retailer Waitrose said today would be its busiest day for sales in-store and for online deliveries.