Avoid being a 'panic Saturday' shopper this weekend

16 December 2010

10 million consumers are expected to spend £1.1 billion on the high street on what is expected to be the busiest shopping day of the year – this Saturday 18 Dec.

This Saturday, or 'panic Saturday' as it's being dubbed, will see the average consumer buy £150 worth of last-minute Christmas gifts. On average, UK households will spend £673.56 this Christmas, of which £148 will be spent online, according to research by e-commerce site Kelkoo.

It's thought extreme weather is behind the panic buying, with many previous Christmas shopping trips cancelled due to the snow. With the added pressure of cancelled online orders, the high street looks set to be busier than ever.

Overall, Christmas sales are expected to rise by an extra £862 million to make an eye-watering total spend of £68.7 billion on Christmas gifts this year.

Chris Simpson, marketing director of Kelkoo, says: "This weekend is vitally important for high street retailers as many earn up to 60% of their annual profits during the Christmas period, and the bad weather has recently dampened their sales expectations. It's therefore encouraging to see that shoppers will be heading onto the high street in solid numbers this Saturday."

He adds: "However, those looking to avoid the queues, stock shortages and the general chaos of the last weekend before Christmas, shouldn't write off hunting for online bargains from the comfort of their own home. Most internet retailers are guaranteeing delivery in time for Christmas for orders placed by 20 December."

How to shop at the last minute without losing your cool:

Shop online

Buying your presents online can save you around 15% on average, plus it saves you the added stress of hitting the shops. Some retailers will even deliver right up until Christmas Eve, but it will cost you dear – check our list of Christmas delivery deadlines before you splash out. However, during the bad weather, many online retailers have been forced to bring forward their last delivery date before Christmas, and some have cancelled all deliveries altogether. Before you place an order online, it's worth checking with the individual retailer to see the status of their Christmas deliveries. The last order dates of many online stores has been brought forward to midnight, December 18 (tomorrow) - so beat the shops and order gifts as soon as possible.

Write a list

Writing a list and deciding which gifts to buy before you hit the shops will save you trailing aimlessly along the high street. Plan exactly what type of gift you're after and head straight to the specific retailer. You can always check details online, and even reserve an item for collection from certain shops. It's a good idea to work out a budget for each gift to stop yourself from spending too much.

Make your own presents

If shopping on the high street turns you off that much, make your own gifts. Anything from mix CDs to homemade hampers are cheap and simple to make – plus they're more personal than something shop-bought.

If all else fails…

There's always gift vouchers. Most retailers will offer them, and they're an easy option if you're still struggling for inspiration on Christmas Eve. While they're not the most thoughtful gift, it might give you more incentive to plan ahead next year.

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