People are being warned to avoid shopping on Christmas Eve this year, with the day falling on a Sunday meaning big stores will still be forced to close early.
It also means shops are likely to be more crowded than usual and long queues are expected in many places across the UK, as retailers open as late as 11am and close as early as 4pm.
However, according to the Centre for Retail Research, smaller stores whose premises have less than 3000sq ft of floor space may be the saving grace for last-minute Christmas shoppers, as the laws on Sunday trading hours would not apply to them.
The Centre for Retail Research predicts spending on Christmas Eve would surpass £105 million, with 1.5 million shoppers expected to give convenience stores and garages a sales boost with last-minute food and gifts purchases.
Meanwhile, online retail giants such as Amazon, and high street stalwarts Debenhams and John Lewis are set to launch New Year internet sales on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with discounts of up to 66 per cent forecast.
“More small shops than ever will open on Christmas Day,” Centre for Retail Research director Professor Joshua Bamfield said.
“More small shops than ever will open on Christmas Day. For convenience stores, it’s a superb day and they’d love every Sunday to be like Christmas Day, with all the big shops closed.
“Shoppers will call in for last-minute gifts and food they forgot to buy.”