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Shoppers rush for Christmas gifts
Britain has gone Christmas shopping crazy as big discounts offered by retailers tempted people out in huge numbers to high streets and shopping centres across the UK.
The festive season brought a welcome boost for retailers on the penultimate Saturday before the big day, and there were some old favourites among the toys being snapped up.
Shoppers were out in force in London where some of the most famous stores were cutting prices by up to 50%.
Jace Tyrrell, director of communications for the New West End Company, which represents 600 businesses, said: "It's been very busy at stores such as Topshop, Hamleys and House of Fraser. There are discounts on selected items of up to 50%, including 40% at House of Fraser, and 30% at Debenhams.
"We've had a strong performance in the West End recently. November footfall was up more than 5% on the previous November, and sales were up 2.3%, while the rest of the UK has been flat. In a way we are in a bit of a bubble here, with the tourists coming here, so there is a different feel in central London from the rest of the UK. This is a big weekend for fashion items, and technology is just flying off the shelves, any tablet or device is selling well."
Braehead shopping centre, in Glasgow, was in "full swing", according to its general manager, Peter Beagley.
Selected shops will be open until midnight from Monday to Christmas Eve to try to catch as many shoppers as possible. Mr Beagley said: "Christmas shopping is now well and truly in full swing. Braehead as a centre and the individual retailers are doing very well and it looks like Santa will have trouble getting his sack down the chimney if the amount of presents being bought at Braehead this year is anything to go by."
Staff at children's retailer Toys R Us said they have been experiencing a particularly busy weekend. Richard Tarbutt, assistant manager of the outlet's store in Cardiff, said new versions of old favourites were proving particularly popular.
"There has been a strong demand for Furbys this year," he added. "The original ones were released some 12 years ago, but the re-released version has been a big hit.
Dean Stratton, centre manager of the White Rose Shopping Centre in Leeds, said he expected the day to be one of the busiest of 2012, with an increase of nearly 50% on people visiting compared to a Saturday mid-year.