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Last Saturday, 17th December, has been hailed the busiest shopping day of 2011 for High Street stores in the UK. Research indicates that customers spent a total of £1.5 million a minute, with last minute shopping for the festive season providing a much needed boost to the retail stores. Research conducted by the Centre for Retail Research in September this year indicated that 11 million people would hit the stores on Saturday.

Kelkoo, price comparison website predicted that £1.05 billion in total was expected in spending. An average amount of £682 was predicted to be spent by UK households for Christmas, with £508 being spent in bricks and mortar stores and £174 online. Kelkoo said that overall spending on the High Street would fall by 2.1 percent this Christmas, while spending online would see an increase of 16.4 percent. Spending for the festive season represents almost 20 percent of annual sales for retailers, making it a crucial time for many.

One million shoppers had passed through the doors of Manchester’s Trafford Centre in the second week of December, while the Brent Cross Shopping Centre expected to see at least a million shoppers between 17th December and Christmas. The director of operations for the Trafford Centre, Gordon McKinnon said:

“There is no doubt that many people have left it later this year, holding off spending until as late as possible, but we are now into the final run-in and people realise there are only a few days left.”

The sales figures arrive just as Mary Portas gave a report stating that UK retailers were facing competition for retailers online and under threat.

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