Christmas shoppers take to streets on 'panic Saturday'

GORDON Wallace was standing outside the Glasgow Buchanan Street branch of upmarket French perfume store L'Occitane in the driving snow, his face a picture of unadulterated misery.

• Buying spree: shoppers on Glasgow's Buchanan Street

"I hate Christmas shopping," he declared, while all around him thousands of busy Scottish shoppers were doing their best to make the day live up to the moniker 'panic Saturday', racing from shop to shop with the determination of a herd of elephants intent on a good meal.

"I haven't really started yet, I've only done a wee bit," 69-year-old Wallace said, while, inside the shop, his wife earnestly looked for gifts. "This really is panic Saturday for me," she said.

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On the busiest Saturday of the year in the biggest retail centre in Scotland, the Christmas shoppers are out in full force. There are harrassed parents clutching enormous bags from Hamleys, nervous husbands holding Perfume Shop carriers, and women who, despite the chaos, seem to know exactly what they want.

"I'm almost done," said Simone Chalmers, a 48-year-old finance officer who is holding a number of luxury carrier bags, Laura Ashley and Molton Brown among them, with a sigh of relief. "The town's been really busy but the shops seem prepared for it, the assistants were really helpful and there weren't too many really long queues."

Others however, are less organised. Ryan Clark and Euan McCrindle, both 17, are heading into upmarket shopping centre Princes Square.

"I've got to get lots of things for my family," says Clark nervously. "I haven't started yet and now I'm here I'm really cold."

McCrindle has got as far as looking up certain gifts on the internet. "It gave me an idea of what to buy, but you've still got to actually buy it," he points out.

For 30-year-old Joanna Kirk, looking smart in an Alexander McQueen scarf and carrying several designer bags, victory is almost upon her. "One more thing, that's all I need," she said. "I started last month and I thought I better come in and get it finished today. It's been so tiring but I'm so relieved. I'm treating myself to a coffee after this."

Others - perhaps the lucky ones - just seem to let the whole thing wash over them. As Wallace's wife says as she pulls him into another store: "He thinks Christmas just happens."