Christmas shopping: Millions take to the high street to snap up bargains

December 23rd, 201111:51 am @

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  • Today will see 33m transactions made in busiest shopping day of the year
  • Customers who bought early angry at prices of same goods being slashed

By
Rupert Steiner

Last updated at 11:17 AM on 23rd December 2011

Millions of last minute bargain hunters hit the high street today on what is set to be the busiest shopping
day of the year.

Savvy consumers who have waited for stores to start their sales in the final run-up to Christmas are expected to make 33million transactions worth more than £1.5billion
throughout the day.

This would be an increase of around 8 per cent compared with the same period last year, according to Visa.

Retail frenzy: Shoppers fill the pavements in Regent Street in central London yesterday in the final run-up to Christmas. Today is set to be the busiest shopping day of the year

Retail frenzy: Shoppers fill the pavements in Regent Street in central London yesterday in the final run-up to Christmas. Today is set to be the busiest shopping day of the year

Discount bonanza: The busiest hour of shopping in 2011 is due to take place tomorrow between 12pm and 1pm

Discount bonanza: The busiest hour of shopping in 2011 is due to take place tomorrow between 12pm and 1pm

The rise is partly attributed to
shoppers being able to enjoy some of the biggest pre-Christmas discounts
ever as desperate stores try to boost sales.

Many firms have already launched
their January sales ahead of what are expected to be the two most
lucrative days of the year on the high street.

Tomorrow will see the busiest shopping hour of the year – 12 noon to 1pm on Christmas Eve.

However, the discount deals are already starting to backfire.

Customers who bought early have been angered to find their purchases are now selling for a fraction of the price.

Marks Spencer, Debenhams, John
Lewis, and Argos have all started their winter sales over fears they
could be left with mountains of stock as shoppers wait until the last
minute to make festive purchases.

Jackie Phillips, 47, a receptionist from
Northfield, Birmingham, said: ‘I bought my daughter a toy pushchair for
Christmas and now I’ve just seen it for half the price. It is really
annoying. You expect it on Boxing Day but not now.’

Marks  Spencer is one of many stores to have launched its January sale early. Bargain hunters are expected to make 33million transactions worth more than £1.5billion throughout today

Marks Spencer is one of many stores to have launched its January sale early. Bargain hunters are expected to make 33million transactions worth more than £1.5billion throughout today

Crowded: The early launch of many January sales early has angered shoppers who made their Christmas purchases in advance

Crowded: The early launch of many January sales early has angered shoppers who made their Christmas purchases in advance

A report by accountant RSM Tenon released yesterday paints a bleak picture of the state of the high street. It claims 13 per cent of retailers, around 8,990, are at high risk of collapsing into insolvency.

As a result January sales have started early as firms try to lure consumers with the promise of rock-bottom prices.

In
some cases, major chains are discounting by up to 80 per cent. French
Connection, which issued a profit warning earlier this month, brought
forward its sale by a week. 

The move comes a week after a Government
commissioned report by self-styled retail guru Mary Portas warned that
the UK’s high streets were under threat from online competition, with
some town centres described as ‘dead’.

Latest government figures showed
sales volumes for November fell 0.4 percent from the previous month,
according to the Office for National Statistics due to poor sales of
computers, watches, jewellery and carpets.

More
worrying data released yesterday showed UK shopper numbers for this
week are lower than the weak snow-affected period last year.

But early birds feel robbed

In yet another blow to stores, Boxing
Day sales have been thrown into chaos in the capital after a High Court
judge refused to ban a Tube strike.

Drivers
who have already seen their salaries rocket to more than £50,000 per
year are walking out demanding £365 overtime pay and a lieu day.

Hundreds of families expecting to
tuck into a luxury feast this Christmas will be left disappointed after
Fortnum Mason admitted many of its famous hampers will not arrive
in time.

The store blamed
‘severe’ IT problems as it said that thousands of hampers are still
sitting in its warehouse, shattering the hopes of present-buyers who
have shelled out a small fortune for one of the wicker baskets.

It
has promised to provide refunds to those who ordered their hampers in
good time and still do not receive them by Christmas Eve.

No time like the present: January sales have started early as firms try to lure consumers with the promise of rock-bottom prices

No time like the present: January sales have started early as firms try to lure consumers with the promise of rock-bottom prices

A man carrying gift-wrapped presents is distracted by goods in a shop window as the countdown to Christmas Day continues

Countdown to Christmas: A man carrying gift-wrapped presents is distracted by goods in a shop window

Here’s what other readers have said. Why not add your thoughts,
or debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have not been moderated.

Just got back from last-minute shopping – just one question – where is everybody? Is this story media-hysteria or just wishful thinking on the part of the greedy shop-keepers?

It’s all hype …

Or maybe people are so short of money now they have had to wait for Decembers pay to go christmas shopping

Most of the shops are ripping us off all the time. the biggest culprits are the furniture stores; 400-700% profit.

The savvy customers will wait for the, Closing down, sale !

‘…Millions of people spending money they don’t have, just like the bansters we cristicise. I have money, but I’m also well aware of the forthcoming crisis, andn so our Christmas will be frugal. All you need is loved ones and family held close. I understand the shoppers, as I did this frenzied spending ritual for years, before I wised up. Going into debt makes OTHER people rich. DON’T DO IT! If it’s already too late, too bad, but have a wonderful Christmas anyway. Next year 2012 will be the worst year yet. Hope you’ve all made plans.’

Despite complaints about how much things have come down, you need to bear in mind that in many cases shops will be making a LOSS on some items now. They have to shift the stock now and get the cash in or they won’t sell at all and then they will be in big trouble. Unfortunately I think we will see a number of stores going bust in the new year as they simply won’t have sold enough at the right price.

If the items are cheaper in the sale – get a refund on the original item and buy at the lower cost. Extra admin for the retailer, lower cost for the customer……….

Get real folks! Since when has profit been a dirty word? Stores buy stock up to a year in advance, they take the gamble when they place their orders.. The stock is work peanuts in january as shoppers will all be in hibernation, as we are all skint and settling the credit card bills. If they don’t slash prices now , when we are in a shopping frenzy, then many of the stores may go under. I know that nobody want a profit to come from them, but this is business in the real world. We all have a choice, buy it or not? is it worth the original price?above all do I really need it, does little Billy really need trainers for 88 quid? I think not!!!!!!!!!!!!

THis happens every year- why not just wait? You all know its going to happen, but insist on buying presents early like people I know, who buy (and wrap them) in October. People forget the real meaning of Christmas

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