Millions shop for last-minute gifts

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Published: Wednesday 24th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Millions of shoppers will be spending Christmas Eve pounding the streets for last-minute gifts with more than £800 million predicted to go through the tills.

Half of British adults (49.9%) have left some of their festive shopping until today, according to a survey for Sainsbury’s Bank.

It has estimated 11% of the week’s shopping will take place in the final hours of trading – down from 22% last year – but 23.6 million people are expected to shop today compared with 17.5 million last year, spending up to £832 million.

Simon Ranson, head of banking at Sainsbury’s Bank, said: “It appears that fewer people are leaving all of their shopping to the last minute. However our research shows there could be a rising number who are hitting the shops for one or two further gifts or last-minute items.”

John Lewis said last week’s sales of £160.6 million, up 6.5% on the previous week, confirmed its expectation that customers were choosing to leave their Christmas shopping until the last minute.

The department store’s retail director, Andrew Murphy, said: “Last week we said it’s all to play for and that is still absolutely the case as we have seen a building trend of customers leaving their gift purchases right up until the last minute.

“Busy though our shops have been over the past week, it’s only in these final pre-Christmas days that many customers are finally moving to complete their gift buying and other purchases.

“Consequently our partners are standing ready for a very busy final trading day before the festive break.”

Fenwick of Bond Street has set up a pop-up gifting service that guarantees to help the “last minute man” find the ideal gift in just five minutes, right up until 5pm tonight.

The service’s popularity reached a high on Monday when more than 10 bottles of Chanel No5 sold every hour.

David Walker-Smith, managing director at Fenwick of Bond Street, said: “We understand how men like to shop, and the guarantee of finding something fabulous in a short space of time has provided considerable relief at what can be a stressful time of year for shoppers.

“We expect a further leap in sales of vintage Chanel handbags, statement jewellery and classic fragrances in the final 24 hours before the big day.”

The New West End Company is predicting £20 million will go through the tills today across the West End, with retailers extending their hours to as late as 8pm.

The Co-operative has said that the last-minute shopping list is most likely to include fizzy drink, lemons and limes, a selection box, prosecco and mince pies.

Andrew Mann, customer director for The Co-operative Food said: “We are expecting intense trading in the last few hours before Christmas as people re-stock or seek last-minute items.

“On average consumers will shop for food every day in the five days leading up to Christmas as fresh lines become available in store.”

Published: Wednesday 24th December 2014 by The News Editor

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