The financial week ahead – Newswatch: Dreaming of a #600 christmas.

If you’ve still got to go out and do your Christmas shopping over the next fortnight, the High Street may be more crowded than you or UK retailers had banked on, writes Jerry Frank.

A Christmas shopping survey carried out for Big Five firm Deloitte and Touche has revealed that people expect to spend more on presents this year than last despite 34% of consumers fearing the economy could be heading for a recession.

The average consumer will spend about #300 on gifts, #156 on food and drink and about £100 on socialising, according to the survey carried out by pollsters at NOP.

Revellers from Wales and the west of England are expected to be the highest spenders this year, with their total Christmas bill amounting to about #600. Consumers in the south west expected to spend the least with bills reaching £450.

Men are the biggest spenders, but 15% leave their shopping until the week before Christmas, compared with five per cent of women.

Welcome seasonal trade looks set to come the way of retailers who have set up online operations with one in four consumers saying they will use the internet, for purchases or for price comparisons, particularly for food.

And online FDs will be looking eagerly to see if distribution channels can cope when more than a half of online customers expecting their food and drink deliveries in the last week of Christmas. And, if you’re stuck in Oxford Street, you can also take small comfort that you are in the most expensive major city in Europe and the US.

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