Legendary toy store Hamleys flicked the switch on its stunning festive shopfront on Sunday, as Regent Street was lit up for the festive shopping period. Retailers are hoping to reverse a six-year trend towards last-minute seasonal shopping. Many launched Christmas promotional campaigns early and marketing impact is expected to be a key contributor to success this year. SPSL customer footfall expert Tim Denison forecast that shopper numbers would be slightly up - 0.5 per cent on last year - helped by marketing and price campaigns. According to another monitor, FootFall, many goods are now cheaper than 10 years ago, making this a shoppers' Christmas.

- Festive shopping trends: page 26

- Christmas crackers: page 28.