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Christmas frenzy

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This weekend is set to be the busiest time for shopping centres up and down the country as people rush to the shops to buy last minute presents.

Hundreds of shops are opening until midnight for the first time and supermarkets are also opening 24 hours to accommodate Christmas shoppers.

Friday 23rd December 2011 is estimated to be the busiest shopping day of the year with people stocking up on food, drink and gifts for the party season.

Many shops around bigger cities like London will be open longer with the hope it will encourage shoppers to miss the queues compared to their normal hours.

Department stores around the UK such as Marks and Spencer’s, Debenhams and House of Frazer have extended their opening hours this week to aid panic shoppers.

It is hoped the extra opening times will bring in extra money as internet buying is increasing and people have spent less this year because of rising living costs.

Last year shops saw a difference in how many people shopped for Christmas presents with many favouring staying indoors and using the internet rather than shopping on the high street.

It is estimated that shoppers will be spending £6 billion over the weekend with 33 million transactions, although these figures are less compared to previous years.

Sales have already begun in many shops with them offering lower prices that are usually saved until Boxing Day.

It’s not only high streets and supermarkets that will see thousands of people; roads are expected to see millions travellers as they make their way to their family and friends in time for Christmas.

The AA have urged drivers to take extra car when travelling because of the volume of traffic and unplanned weather that is expected.

The roads expected to be busy are the M1 in Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire, the M4 between London and Newbury in Berkshire, the M25 around London and the M4 and M5 in the West Country.

Rail transport is also expected to be busy in cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and London with thousands of passengers estimated throughout the Christmas period.

People who have left Christmas shopping until the last minute will have to tackle shops, busy roads and lengthy queues.  

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By Amanda Bainbridge