Shoppers have shifted their Christmas shopping schedules into the month of December, the latest research by GfK NOP has revealed.

In the latest wave of polling in the GfK NOP Christmas survey, 54 per cent of consumers said they intend to do most of their buying this month.

The figure was up from 30 per cent who said in July that they intended to wait until December before splashing out.

The survey followed high-profile promotions by department store group Debenhams, Marks & Spencer and others and indicates that the annual game of chicken between shoppers and retailers is now under way.

The impact of the credit crunch means consumers will be keen bargain-hunters and that retailers will need to manage trading expertly in the final countdown to Christmas.

GfK NOP retail research director Helen Roberts said: “The finding bears out the theory that consumers are hanging back in the hope of even greater discounts in the final weeks and days before Christmas.”

The survey also revealed another downtick in the amount people intend to spend.

The average planned spend fell to£544 from£580 in early November and a high of£614 at the start of October.