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Saturday 20th December set to be busiest Christmas shopping day of 2008

Friday December 19th 2008

Visa Europe predicts that Saturday 20th December will be the busiest shopping day of the 2008 Christmas period.

The last Friday or Saturday before Christmas is usually the busiest shopping day. This year, with Christmas day falling later on in the week, Visa predicts it will be Saturday. Visa expects to process over 15 million transactions worth
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approximately £750 million on this day alone.

Visa Europe predicts the busiest five minute time period for UK retailers will be 12:15pm to 12.20pm on Saturday 20th December. In this period Visa will process 42,000 transactions a minute, which is 700 every second.

Visa's analysis of 2008 Christmas spending so far shows that November was a strong month, with a 7% increase in spending on Visa debit cards compared to 2007, and the biggest single day of spending on Friday 28th November. This continued into the first week of December, which saw a 17% week on week increase. However, sales since then have slowed down with the next week dropping 6% in spend but up 7% on the previous year.

Visa Europe's data also shows that this year has been its busiest ever for online shopping. Visa processed over 36 million online sales transactions in the first two weeks of December, with a combined value of over £1.8 billion.

Dr Steve Perry, Commercial Director, Visa Europe comments: “The significant drop off in spending in the second week of December is unusual. Either consumers are delaying many of their purchases in the hope of finding last minute bargains, or they have decided to reign in their spending completely. This means Britain's retailers are either in for a bumper last weekend or a very poor Christmas indeed.

“Whilst consumers may be delaying the purchases they make in shops, they have already been shopping in record numbers online. Online shopping has made a tremendous difference to Christmas spending patterns as consumers place their orders early on in December to ensure they are delivered on time.”