Saturday December 19 will see 15 million shoppers pack the high street to embark on the UK’s busiest shopping day of the year, according to research from Kelkoo
and the Centre for Retail Research
. Shoppers will spend £1.1 billion on last-minute gifts, which will help retailers achieve predicted overall sales of £44.7 billion for the Christmas season – a year-on-year increase of 1.9% or £832 million.
Kelkoo, of course, is advising consumers to check prices online before they hit the shops. Some retailers are charging up to 34% more than competitive e-tailers for this year's most popular Christmas gifts, says Kelkoo. LCD TVs offer one of the biggest online savings with a popular Sharp 32” coming in £159 or 27% cheaper online.
Stock levels may also be an issue and could lead to disappointed shoppers, says Kelkoo, as retailers have already started selling out of this year’s hottest items. A recent report revealed that only £5.5 billion worth of toys were imported to the UK in the first nine months of the year, which is almost half the £11.2 billion worth of imports from 2008. This means that the most in-demand children’s toys are already tough to find and, in some cases, prices are rising by as much as 400%. For example, Go Go Hamsters originally retailed at just £9.99 and are now sold for anything up to £49.99 on some auction websites.
Where high street stores have tried to undercut more competitive online prices, many have struggled to keep up with demand, Kelkoo adds. "For example, John Lewis recently offered the Wii black console with Wii Sports Resort for £159, £6 cheaper than the most competitive online price (£165). Unfortunately, this product sold out quickly. Hardly surprising given that the Nintendo Wii has sold more than six million units in the UK since its launch in December 2006, making it the fastest selling video game in UK history."
“It’s been a very tough year for retailers around the UK, so it’s really encouraging to see shoppers heading both online and onto the high street in solid numbers this year," says
Richard Stables, Kelkoo's CEO.
“Consumers shouldn’t completely write off shopping for online bargains after the first couple of weeks in December. Many of our suppliers are guaranteeing delivery in time for Christmas for orders placed until 21st December," he adds. "However, we strongly advise consumers to check prices online before they hit the shops. Based on the most popular items this Christmas, our research shows that prices are on average 19% cheaper online.”