• Shopper numbers fall 4.3% on ‘Panic Saturday’ as consumers make use of retailers’ later online delivery cut-offs
  • Footfall predicted to rise 2.5% today, dubbed Panic Monday
  • Tuesday is expected to be the busiest shopping day on the high street, up 54% on the daily average

Retailers are poised for a last-minute rush to stores in the next four days as online delivery cut-offs loom.

But deep discounting is prevalent after a warm autumn and a subdued Black Friday left store groups with excess stock.

Footfall is predicted to rise 2.5% today, dubbed Panic Monday, as people switch from online shopping to stores. Tuesday is expected to be the busiest shopping day on the high street, and FootFall predicts shopper numbers will surge 54% on the daily average.

FootFall said shopper numbers actually fell 4.3% on December 19, so-called Panic Saturday, because consumers are increasingly making use of retailers’ later online delivery cut-offs.

Figures from Springboard supported that data. The firm said Panic Saturday shopper numbers fell 4.7% year-on-year, but were up 5.2% on the week. 

Steve Richardson, UK regional director at FootFall, said: “We expect the Panic Monday shift to be even more pronounced this year. 

“As Christmas falls on a Friday, there have only been three Mondays in December 2015, whereas the past three years (2012 – 2014) had four Mondays, making the shift to in-store shopping even more marked.

“What’s more, as consumers might choose to take off a few days ahead of Christmas, this could also mean we see more shopper traffic on the high street and in shopping centres, as consumers feel they aren’t reliant on online shopping alone.”

Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle added: “Many retailers have now already started their Boxing Day sales to shift pre-Christmas stock, so we’re expecting to see shoppers flocking out to bag a bargain in bricks and mortar stores, avoiding the hiked-up express delivery costs online.

“As the mild weather continues shoppers will be enticed to outdoor shopping venues, providing good news for UK high streets.”

Deloitte said discounts have averaged 44.9% in recent days. Retailers including Debenhams, Argos and H&M have all launched Sales in the run up to Christmas.

Jason Gordon, consumer business partner at Deloitte, said: “With the exception of 2008, this is the deepest pre-Christmas discount we’ve seen in the last decade.

“Compared to 2014, there is already a noticeable increase in both the volume and value of discounts in the run-up to Christmas this year.

“Whilst this is good news for consumers looking to grab a bargain, it is a clear sign that retailers are being faced with what is now an annual uphill battle.”

’Panic Saturday’ was tipped to kick off a £6bn six-day spending spree – 23% more than the same period last year when Christmas Day fell on a Thursday.

Panic Saturday was expected to be the biggest day in terms of spend, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse, which forecast sales of £1.8bn across stores and online.