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Busiest 2011 shopping day forecast
Friday is expected to be the busiest shopping day of the year as consumers rush to grab last-minute bargains before the Christmas weekend, Visa has predicted.
The payments company expects to process more than 33 million transactions worth more than £1.5 billion throughout the day, an increase of around 8% compared with the same period last year.
Last-minute shoppers are forecast to spend more than £1 million every minute and nearly £18,000 a second on their Visa cards.
But while Friday is set to be the biggest shopping day overall, Visa predicts that the busiest shopping hour of the year will be on Christmas Eve between noon and 1pm, in a final flurry of activity before Christmas Day.
Dr Steve Perry, commercial director at Visa Europe, said: "Consumer spending in the run-up to Christmas has been highly volatile this year, but our data shows that shoppers will eventually embrace the festive season.
"We've already seen strong growth in online sales and we expect that the 23rd will be the busiest ever shopping day for the amount of money spent on Visa cards, increasing by 8% compared against last year."
Visa's predictions are based on recent data and previous years' Christmas spending trends. More than £1 in every £4 spent in the UK is on a Visa card.
Visa's latest Christmas tracker, which estimates total consumer spending, found that retailers had bumper sales last week with spending up by 7.1% week-on-week.
It said that heavy discounting, particularly on the high street and by supermarkets, drove up spending week-on-week on food and drink, clothing and footwear.