Last-minute shoppers splash £5bn this weekend, says BRC

Over the last two days, millions hit the high street to stock up on prezzies, food and booze.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

We've all been there. With just a few days to go till the big day, one realises with horror that one hasn't bought a single Christmas present.

This weekend, these last-minute shoppers brought some festive cheer to the high street, spending an estimated £5bn, according to the British Retail Consortium. On Saturday alone, consumers made 31 million transactions, reckons Visa Europe. Although Sainsbury's said that Sunday, between noon and 1pm, was its busiest hour ever in terms of the number of customers served.

Still even these eleventh-hour billions fall short of the high hopes of UK retailers. Christmas sales figures are likely to be 'acceptable' rather than 'exceptional', sniffs the BRC.

Indeed, new figures from business recovery firm Begbies Traynor show that nearly 140 retailers are currently in 'critical condition' despite the traditional Christmas trading peak. In its latest UK business solvency survey, 13,700 more firms were found to be in distress, up 35% on the last quarter.

With many retailers expecting their next quarterly rent payment bill on December 25, this may not be a Merry Christmas for all: Begbies Traynor predicts a widespread rise in the number of both national and regional retail insolvencies in the beginning of next year.

The worst affected retailers include: specialists in books, news and stationery, where distress signals were 85% higher on the previous quarter. However, online retailers, supermarkets and shops selling decor and household goods have seen sales figures improve.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

What British business can learn from the French

Forget the cliches - our old rival is hotbed of management innovation and is leading...

Want to encourage more female leaders? Openly highlight their achievements

A study shows that publicly praising women not only increases their willingness to lead, their...

Message to Davos: Don't blame lack of trust on 'society'

The reason people don't trust you is probably much closer to home, says public relations...

Dame Cilla Snowball: Life after being CEO

One year on from stepping back as boss of Britain's largest advertising agency, Dame Cilla...

How to change people's minds when they refuse to listen

Research into climate change deniers shows how behavioural science can break down intransigence.

"Paying women equally would cripple our economy"

The brutal fact: underpaid women sustain British business, says HR chief Helen Jamieson.