IT’S known as Super Saturday. And yesterday, shoppers did not disappoint as a whopping £5 billion was spent on the British high street in just one day.
With stores staying open until 11pm and one credit card company saying it handled more than 30 million transactions, crowds flocked to shopping centres up and down the country, braving wet and blustery conditions to make the most of early sales and discounts.
And some stores are already discounting items in advance of the Boxing Day sales, while many online retailers have also begun their sales. More than a million people in the UK say they plan to shop online on Christmas Day – but many are still planning to head for the shops on Boxing day – with sales on 26 December predicted to total £2.9bn.
Research from Sainsbury’s suggests 17.2 million people will still be hitting the shops on Christmas Eve – whether to buy a last-minute present or bag a bargain. Sainsbury’s predicts £55 million per hour will be spent in the last-minute rush.
This will add up to more than £3bn in sales – almost three times the amount spent on Christmas Eve last year.
Despite gloomy sales figures, cash spending is also expected to be up on last year. Visa Europe said customers were set to spend £1.26bn on their Visa cards alone.
The company said it processed around 31.9 million transactions yesterday, with 2pm to 3pm the busiest hour.
It said shoppers appeared to have saved up for a “spree” this weekend – dubbed “the big one” – with figures showing an incremental increase in spending in recent weeks.
The British Retail Consortium said yesterday would be the busier of the two days – primarily because of longer opening hours. Spokesman Richard Dodd said: “There is no question that this will be the biggest spending weekend in the run-up to Christmas and, therefore, the biggest retail weekend.
“It’s been a slow start for retailers because, whilst shopper numbers have been building week by week, they have been consistently down on 12 months ago.”
Glasgow’s Braehead shopping centre said yesterday was its busiest day of the year, with huge crowds also anticipated for today.
General manager Peter Beagley said shoppers were queuing outside stores before they opened at 9am.
He said: “We opened all the doors at the mall entrances earlier than we would normally do and that meant shoppers could queue inside the centre out of the rain.
“By 10am, our car parks were full and we had staff on duty directing cars to spaces when they became available.
“Despite the economic climate, people are going out to enjoy their festive season this year and to make sure no-one is missed out on the Christmas present list.”
Ryan Manson, general manager for Union Square shopping centre in Aberdeen, said: “We have already seen a busy start to the weekend, with shoppers out in force to pick up their must-have last-minute gifts.
“We also saw queues form outside of stores, including Zara, Pandora and O2, as well as our car parks, early this morning.
“This follows a bumper week for the centre after welcoming over 253,000 shoppers across the last five days, an 11.5 per cent increase on last week.”