City set for last-minute Christmas shopping frenzy

Shoppers are coming out in force. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Shoppers are coming out in force. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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SHOPS across the Capital are bracing themselves for a last-minute buying frenzy today as city residents prepare to splurge £10 million on gifts on the last Saturday before Christmas.

The bold prediction came as Edinburgh shoppers show signs of loosening the purse strings in the run-up to ­December 25, amid a strengthening economy and rising consumer confidence.

As businesses ranging from high street bellweathers such as John Lewis to niche boutiques in the Capital’s West End prepared for today’s “Panic Saturday” rush, bullish managers predicted city shops were in line for a ten per cent footfall boost compared with the same weekend in 2012.

Among the last-minute gift items set to fly off shelves are perfumes, scarves, video games consoles and all-in-one pyjama suits, as families look to up the cosiness factor over the festive period.

David Martin, head of policy at the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “There’s a renewed confidence at the moment – I think we’ll see people blitzing it this weekend.

“Our November sales ­monitor showed consumers in Scotland were holding back on spending – the pattern emerging was that consumers were holding back spending until closer to Christmas.

“And because Christmas is falling on a Wednesday and money has been tight, I think we’ll see a bit more of a rush in terms of people hitting the shops.” Mr Martin’s confidence was shared by retailers across the Capital.

At niche boutique Pippin in Haymarket Terrace, owner Erica Stahl said she had taken on extra staff to cope to with the expected leap in Christmas demand for her unique range of cards, jewellery and ­homeware.

“We’re playing it by ear and it’s very difficult to predict, but I would think we’ll be around twice as busy as on a normal Saturday,” she said.

“I expect lots of people to be doing last-minute shopping. Customers have been saying that they still have things left to buy so I think we’re looking at a busy weekend.”

At John Lewis Edinburgh, ­managers said they were ­expecting a significant boost to trade thanks to last-minute panic buying.

Hazel Tierney, operations manager for homeware, said: “There’s always a surge of shoppers. Fragrances, glasses, pyjamas and slippers are all doing really well for us at the moment. I think we’ll be very busy.”

A spokesman for the St ­Andrew Square branch of Harvey Nichols said: “Two weekends ago, we had record 
numbers of customers in our Forth Floor restaurant and brasserie – we’re expecting a very busy Saturday.”

Across the UK, retail experts predict shoppers will deliver a £1.28 billion cash injection over the last weekend before Christmas.

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com