Weather Damages 'Biggest Xmas Shopping Day'

A predicted high street spending spree dubbed 'Manic Monday' has largely failed to materialise, with strong winds and heavy rain combining to force late-Christmas shoppers indoors.

Analysts had expected 15 million people to take to stores, spending £2.6m a minute on gifts, food, drink and decorations.

But the spending spree appears set to fall short of retailers' expectations after the bad weather disrupted travel  and left shoppers seeking shelter.

Despite huge red signs announcing sales of up to 70%, many shops on London's Oxford Street were experiencing customer numbers they would see on a normal day rather than those you would expect just two days before Christmas.

One M&S shopper said: "With the weather, well, it's really quiet.

"A few years ago you wouldn't have been able to get in here."

Major indoor centres, however, were expected to have benefited from the storm.

The Waitrose department store-supermarket in London's Canary Wharf had long queues waiting at tills while car parks at Manchester's Trafford Centre were reported to be full.

Retailers had expected their biggest day of the year, with shoppers parting with about £3.6bn by the end of the day.

Visa expected to process 31 million transactions on UK cards with a peak between 1pm and 2pm as workers rushed out to the shops on their lunch break.

Visa predicted an average £15,000 per second would be spent on its cards.

Many retailers have been furiously discounting prices over the past few days in a bid to attract shoppers amid signs of a slow start to the big festive spend.

While the prospect of bargains bodes well for consumers who left their shopping late, there are fears the price cuts will leave the retail sector with a profits hangover after a bruising battle for business during 2013.

Large promotions have included a 30% discount across clothing lines at Marks & Spencer , as well as price cuts at Debenhams, Gap, Argos and BHS.

John Lewis confirmed on Sunday it had enjoyed record weekly sales with takings hitting £164m - up 4.2% on the same period last year - though its customers tend to be less affected by the squeeze on incomes than the average consumer.

Many supermarket chains planned to keep their biggest stores open 24 hours daily until late on Christmas Eve.

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