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Last Updated: Monday, 24 December 2007, 12:59 GMT
Shoppers in late Christmas rush
Shoppers on London's Oxford Street
The feared High Street slowdown did not take place in November
UK shoppers left their Christmas shopping late this year, but there was a seasonal rush in the last 10 days, the British Retail Consortium says.

As a result, sales will be up on 2006 and retailers are due to beat last December's year-on-year growth, says BRC director general Kevin Hawkins.

But the rush was driven by discounting which tempted shoppers in, he said.

It was "good for customers, but bad for those retailers who've seen their margins squeezed in a crucial month".

"Overall retail sales will certainly be up on last year but, with customers' finances under more pressure than 12 months ago, retailers will have done well to beat last December's year-on-year growth of 2.5%," Mr Hawkins said.

More shoppers

Further good news for British retailers came from Footfall, the organisation which measures shopper numbers.

Footfall said that according to its preliminary research, there were 6.8% more people out shopping on the Saturday before Christmas, compared with the same Saturday a year ago.

Again according to preliminary work, it said that there were 25% more people doing their shopping on Sunday than on the same Sunday in 2006.

However, analysts point out that the same Sunday last year was Christmas Eve, so it is probably not directly comparable.

This year, the last two weekends have both shown rises in Footfall figures, but on weekdays, the numbers have been down.

It also said it was possible that with many retailers starting their January sales early, people might have been out looking for sale bargains, rather than hunting for last-minute Christmas presents.

Footfall's figures are compiled from measuring shopper numbers at 200 retail centres. They only measure the number of people in stores, not how much they are spending.

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