Panic Weekend

Christmas shoppers to splurge £2.75bn this ‘Panic Weekend’

Panic Weekend

Dashing through the shops: Christmas shoppers to splurge £2.75bn this ‘Panic Weekend’

  • 36 million consumers will shop this weekend, with 22 million set to visit stores despite Omicron cases rising
  • Saturday 18th December is set to be the biggest Christmas shopping day of 2021, with 17.9 million shoppers spending £1.74bn in 24 hours 
  • £1.67bn is set to be made in physical stores across the weekend
  • Spend this Panic Weekend to fall just short of pre-pandemic levels (£2.81bn in 2019)
  • But sales will beat those of Panic Weekend 2020 (£2.4bn) 

Christmas shoppers are expected to spend £2.75bn this Saturday and Sunday, also known as ‘Panic Weekend’, according to a new report.

The VoucherCodes Shopping for Christmas 2021 report forecasts a jolly weekend ahead for retailers as 36 million Christmas shoppers are expected to make purchases in a bid to secure their final preparations for the big day. Despite increasing concerns over the Omicron Covid variant, 22 million of these shoppers are set to make a visit to physical stores to ensure their goods are secured in time for Christmas Day.


Retail sales and shopper numbers are set to peak on ‘Super Saturday’ (18th December), during what is set to be the busiest Christmas shopping day of the year. The report predicts 17.9 million shoppers will make a purchase on Saturday alone, spending £1.74bn in the 24 hour period. Of this, the majority (11.6 million) will head out to high streets, malls, and other stores, spending £1.05bn in offline sales. A further £700m is set to be spent online on Saturday by 6.3 million internet shoppers. 

On ‘Stampede Sunday’ (19th December), it is anticipated that a further 17.5m shoppers will spend £1.01bn in combined online and in-store sales. Similarly to Saturday, the bulk of sales are set to come from in-store purchases, with £620m forecast to be spent by 9.9 million consumers. Online sales are predicted to account for a further £380m’s worth of spending, thanks to purchases made by 7.6 million online shoppers.

UK Panic Weekend online and offline sales: 2021 forecast

Sales (£ billion)
Total salesIn-store salesOnline sales
Saturday 18th December£1.74£1.05£0.70
Sunday 19th December£1.01£0.62£0.38
Total£2.75£1.67£1.08

Known by retailers as the most lucrative Christmas shopping weekend. This Panic Weekend is expected to display positive signs of recovery for the industry, as the nation prepares for a Christmas without restrictions on socialising.

Weekend sales are expected to rise by 14%, from the £2.4bn made in 2020, to £2.75bn. Saturday’s sales are set to show the most growth, with a 34% rise from the £1.3bn spent in 2020 to £1.74bn this year. 

However, whilst spending is set to climb considerably this year, the report predicts that retailers will struggle to meet their pre-pandemic results. Forecasts predict a marginal 2% dip in sales for the full Panic Weekend compared to 2019 (£2.81bn), the majority of this fall in spending will be from Sunday’s sales – which are forecast to miss 2019’s results by 15% (£1.19bn). However, in better news, Saturday is expected to see an 8% boost in sales compared to Super Saturday in 2019 (£1.61bn). 

UK Panic Weekend sales 2019 – 2020 actuals & 2021 forecast

Sales (£ billions)Growth (year-on-year)
Retail sales 2019Retail sales 2020Retail sales forecast 2021YoY growth  2019 – 2020YoY growth forecast  2020 – 2021
Super Saturday£1.61£1.30£1.74– 19%34%
Stampede Sunday£1.19£0.85£1.01– 28% 18%
Total£2.81£2.40£2.75-15%14%

Anita Naik, Consumer Editor at VoucherCodes comments, “Almost every year, the last weekend before Christmas, or ‘Panic Weekend’ is an incredibly important and lucrative one for retailers. With consumers looking to finalise their Christmas preparations, and last order dates for online orders drawing nearer, it’s a particularly popular time for shoppers to head to stores to ensure they can get hold of everything they need for the big day. 

“Whilst Covid is certainly still present in the UK, this report suggests that consumers are looking forward to a Christmas Day without socialising restrictions, and are set to pull out all of the stops when finalising their Christmas shopping this weekend to make this year’s festivities truly special.

“This year, with the emergence of the Omicron Covid variant, it’s understandable that consumers may have increased concerns around visiting stores. Thankfully, with Christmas over a week away, there is still time to order online from many retailers if you’d prefer to finish your shopping from home. To help make sure you have everything in time for the big day, we’ve created a handy list of last order dates for many of your favourite retailers so you can make sure you place those all-important last orders in time.”

Top Tips Header

How not to overspend during ‘Panic Weekend’

Despite having bought a number of Christmas presents for family, I still have a few more yet to buy before the big day! It’s very easy to splurge the cash if you have just been paid, but remember this needs to last until the end of January! We still have a week left, so do not panic! You still have time and you don’t need to spend too much money.

1. Budget for the New Year, not just for Christmas

Budgeting seems such a dirty word. Yet it is so important to divvy out all of your money now, before the New Year. I have already transferred my money into weekly posts for January. Then have my rent in one account for the end of the money and bills in another.

2. Work out what you still need to buy for Christmas

I haven’t yet bought Christmas dinner, and have a couple of presents to buy. So I have a list of items to buy and am going to allocate £20 for each item. Then £20 for Christmas dinner (including drinks). I have bought my nieces and nephew theirs, so at least that’s done!

3. Getting into debt

I am not going to preach about not getting into debt over Christmas. All our personal circumstances are different. Many people have lost their jobs, or have been made redundant, or through personal circumstances are not working at the moment. We all want to make Christmas special. However, focus on your essentials right now. You can buy small gifts for each other, or do a family Secret Santa to keep costs down. If you have to put it on a credit card, just limit your purchases so your debt doesn’t snowball further. Look for bargains and cashback sites.

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