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Last Updated: Friday, 28 November, 2003, 09:50 GMT
Shoppers 'to lift festive spend'
Oxford St shoppers
Many shoppers are shunning the High Street and using the internet
A third of Christmas shoppers intend to spend more this festive season than last year, a survey has found.

Of those questioned, 5% said they would spend "substantially more", according to market researcher Mintel.

Each person will spend on average 300 on presents, with one in four aiming to buy on the internet, the survey said.

The findings come a day after a separate survey found consumer confidence had fallen since the Bank of England raised interest rates.

Shopping online

It's not an understatement to say we have a mountain to climb over the next three and half weeks
Gareth Thomas, John Lewis
Mintel consultant Richard Caines said it would be a "very satisfactory" time for retailers but warned that consumer growth was credit-driven and may fade.

He said concerns about the security of online purchasing were disappearing as people became more confident in certain companies.

One in four people surveyed said they would be buying something online for Christmas.

Mr Caines said: "I think it's got strong appeal for people who want to avoid going out in the busy shops.

"It's also very good to compare prices between retailers in trying to get the best value for money."

Christmas spending
29% intend spending more than last year
5% say substantially more
52% say about the same
18% say less
*figures from Mintel
Mixed signals

Mintel said people appeared to be prepared to spend more than last year on presents - more than 300 on average.

"Consumer confidence seems to keep running at a high level," said Mr Caines.

Although the general economic background was favourable, wages were not increasing at the same rate as spending, he warned.

I am spending Christmas in Spain. The lack of hype, materialism and commercialism is refreshing
Zoe, Spain

"The level of borrowing may become too high and the brakes will suddenly come on and there will be a turn-down," he said.

However, on Thursday, the latest consumer confidence survey by research firm Martin Hamlin GFK found that sentiment had fallen to its lowest level since March.

The firm said the fall was due to the Bank of England's decision to raise rates by a quarter point to 3.75% earlier this month.

"I don't think it's so much the quantity of the increase, I think it's the fact that it has increased, that's what sticks in people's minds," Roger Wright of Martin Hamlin GFK told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

A further note of caution came from retailer John Lewis, which said it had seen sales of big items such as electrical goods and furniture falling below last year's levels.

"It's not an understatement to say we have a mountain to climb over the next three and half weeks," John Lewis's Gareth Thomas told the Today programme.

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