Shoppers ignore the economy to spend big in city

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FEARS that Portsmouth’s shoppers will be spending less on Christmas this year have been allayed.

Barclays Bank estimates shoppers hitting Portsmouth’s retail centres such as Commercial Road and Palmerston Road will spend a record £362.3m on their debit cards in December alone.

It is an increase of around four per cent on last December.

The bank says supermarkets will benefit the most from people using their cards in person, with the tills ringing to the tune of £78.5m.

It forecasts that £19.4m will be spent at petrol stations, and £10.7m will head into the coffers of Portsmouth’s department stores.

But more than a quarter of the total spend – £90.6m – will have been spent online before the month is over.

Peter Atkins, manager of the Barclays branch in Commercial Road, said: ‘It’s been a difficult year for consumers whose household budgets have been squeezed to cope with rising costs, but we are expecting shoppers in Portsmouth to shun the doom and gloom and spend record levels as retailers make massive reductions to entice them in.’

Around £231.8m is also expected to be withdrawn from Portsmouth cash machines and banks throughout December.

And if you want to beat the crowds, avoid shopping on Friday and Christmas Eve: Barclays expects £1bn to be spent across the UK on Friday, and £771m spent by panicked shoppers desperately searching for Christmas presents on Saturday.

The peak time for cash machines is forecast to be between 11am and 12pm – with £24,890 being withdrawn every second.

Barclays is advising shoppers to spend on their cards, rather than use cash for their entire shop.

Mr Atkins added: ‘Whether you have a Christmas spending strategy or are more of an impulse festive shopper in search of a bargain, using a debit card is the easiest way to get your Christmas shopping done quickly and securely.

‘We urge shoppers in Portsmouth to stay safe in busy areas and encourage them to use their debit cards rather than carrying large amounts of cash.

‘We would remind them to be careful to take care of their card and their PIN during the busy festive period.’

The top cities for spending during December in the UK are predicted to be London, which should attract more than £5bn, followed by Manchester at just under £2bn, and Birmingham with £1bn.