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British shoppers set to spend £6bn across channels in the final run-up to Christmas

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British shoppers will buy both online and in-store in last-minute spending worth around £6bn in the final run-up to Christmas, according to new predictions.

A study from and the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) suggests that consumers will spend £6bn over the course of the final six days of the shopping season, with £1.1bn changing hands in-store on ‘Panic Saturday’ alone – equivalent to £2.2m for every minute that high street shops are open.

MasterCard SpendingPulse puts total spending for the four days from Saturday December 19 to Tuesday December 22 at £5.9bn, with £1.8bn spent on Saturday alone. It says online orders will be up by 24% over that period, compared to the equivalent period last year.

“The shift to shopping online is undeniable,” said Mark Barnett, president of MasterCard UK & Ireland, “but high streets and shopping malls still dominate with four out of five pounds spent offline. Last year, consumers left their shopping late and we are expecting many to do the same this year, with the four days from Saturday December 19 forecast to be the biggest shopping days of the year.”

Shoppers confident that their online orders will arrive on time are predicted by the CRR to spend £220m online that day.

Delivery management software business MetaPack also predicts high levels of deliveries flowing from ecommerce sales over the weekend, following a dip in sales in the wake of a record Black Friday.

MetaPack chief executive Patrick Wall said: “The Cyber Weekend was even stronger than anticipated, and very well managed. It was a controlled exercise which started earlier than in previous years and finished later. These additional days made the weight of activity significant in terms of the amount of shopping done and the ability for consumers to take advantage of discounts. The relative increases in the first couple of weeks in December haven’t been as great compared with previous years. All our data says consumers are now catching up and we’ll see a bumper weekend.”

Those online sales are expected to make the high street a more relaxed place, with 12.6m people turning out to shop in stores, down from 13m last year.

“We’re expecting slightly fewer Panic Saturday shoppers out on British high streets this year due to the longer gap between the last festive shopping weekend and Christmas Day,” said Claire Davenport, managing director of

“However, 12.6m people is still a significant turnout and launches almost a full week of last-minute spending.

“This is set to be almost a fifth higher than in 2014, so it’s crucial that retailers are prepared in order to capitalise on this pre-Christmas boost and offer customers a seamless experience.”

Meanwhile, Worldpay predictions put high street spending at a higher £1.5bn this Saturday.

Dave Hobday, managing director of Worldpay UK, said: “Things haven’t been easy for bricks and mortar retailers this year, with empty stores on Black Friday symptomatic of how consumers are increasingly choosing to hunt for discount deals online rather than hitting the high-street.

“This weekend is all about the high-street, and there’s certain to be some pressure on retailers to make sure every customer converts into a sale. Stressed shoppers want someone to take the pain out of Panic Saturday, and retailers are increasingly turning to technology to give them an edge. Technologies like mobile payment devices which enable staff to take payments anywhere in-store, can make the difference between a busy day and a chaotic one.”

But figures from EE suggest that many of those in-store shoppers will be using their mobile phones to check competitor prices before buying. When they use an app, it’s most likely to be the Amazon app, according to 82% of the 2,000 people it questioned for the study via OnePoll, followed by those of eBay (54%) and Tesco (28%). Its research suggests that 41% of British shoppers, equivalent to 22m people, regularly showroom. Some 79% research deals online before they buy, while 36% shop online whenever they can.

Nonetheless, found the EE research, shops remain important, with 43% preferring to shop in-store because it’s a quicker way of getting the product. Some 56% say that they would shop in store more regularly if they were offered price-matching deals.

Jeremy Spencer, head of corporate products at EE, said: “The practice of showrooming isn’t going away. It’s understandable that the threat of showrooming preys on retailers’ minds, particularly during such an important shopping season as Christmas. However, retailers actually have a significant opportunity to both engage and retain showrooming customers. Encouraging customers to look up additional information on products in-store using free Wi-Fi, offering a mobile app with digital loyalty schemes and, as our research indicates, offering to match prices found online can not only prevent showrooming in the short term, but can help keep customers coming back. Additionally, providing tablets for customers to use in-store allows people to browse online product ranges, helping to keep purchases in-store.”

James Davies, head of channel, EMEA at global location marketplace xAd suggests retailers find new ways to reach “hyper mobile” high street shoppers in future.

“In the festive rush, there is a huge opportunity for retailers to use location data insights in real-time to point their time-poor audiences in the right direction of their store this Saturday,” he said. “By aligning both targeting strategies and mobile ad creative with the way in which mobile users interact with physical storefronts, retailers can use mobile target shoppers with precision and accuracy, boost their high street sales and capture considered shoppers in this last rush to buy presents.”

Meanwhile, analysis from BloomReach suggested that 90% of consumers buying over the Black Friday weekend made Amazon a port of call when shopping. Some 46% of the 1,000 people it questioned compared their purchases against Amazon, and 80% bought from Amazon, with 70% spending more than a quarter of their budgets on the site, and 33% spending more than half. Some 43% rated Amazon for its ability to search for products, while only 10% named competitor Google Shopping.

“Probably the top advantage that Amazon has is its resources. Amazon has massive amounts of proprietary search and consumer-purchase data to apply its significant algorithmic intelligence for personalized search,” said BloomReach head of marketing and partnerships Joelle Kaufman. “If I’m a retailer, I have a mandate to look outside of my own data silo to better present exactly what my customers want very quickly. When consumers are used to typing in two letters in their own way and seeing exactly what they want, retailers can’t rely on simply knowing who bought what.”

Finally, ParcelHero suggests that ecommerce retailers that have already cut off Christmas deliveries are missing out on a week of potential sales. It points to traders such as Liberty which already says it cannot guarantee pre-Christmas delivery as one of many retailers that will lose out to those that do offer later deliveries.

Its head of PR David Jinks says: “High Street retailers are anticipating a hectic ‘Panic Monday’ on December 21 as last minute shoppers desert the internet and take time off work to complete their shopping. Yet there’s still plenty of time to order online on other sites. In fact, Amazon Prime Now customers can leave it as late as 9.45pm on Christmas Eve to order. Even Santa doesn’t accept lists that late!”

Argos’ new Fasttrack service is set to come into its own, since it is accepting orders for same-day delivery or collection right up to Christmas Eve.

Image: Shutterstock

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