Thousands of shoppers and pub drinkers are set to spend £1.5bn to help boost the UK’s broke economy on the first Saturday after lockdown.
On the first non-working day since lockdown, dubbed ‘Stupor Saturday’, high streets and pubs are expected to be packed.
The boost comes as the NHS prepares to take delivery of two million vaccine doses by the end of next week.
Shoppers are expected to be out in force, making the most of cut-price bargains as the biggest shopping centres in the country open for the first time since lockdown.
More than 300,0000 shoppers are expected to head to the capital’s West End while 150,000 are due to flock to Birmingham’s Bullring and 120,000 at Manchester’s Trafford Centre.
Retail chiefs told bargain hunters to shop responsibly, with many stores extending opening hours to give more time and opportunity to socially distance.
Despite drinkers having to eat a “substantial meal” with their pint, pubs are expected to be the busiest in months.
The Campaign for Real Ale’s Tom Stainer said : “The Great British pub needs the great British public in it’s hour of need!”
Two in three Brits are now believed to be happy to shop in a store, a Centre for Retail Research study showed.
The centre’s Prof Joshua Bamfield said: “People will spend as they want to end a miserable year in a memorable way.
“The determination to have a good Christmas can outweigh Covid concerns and dented consumer confidence.”
Helen Dickinson, CEO of the British Retail Consortium said: “Retailers are offering discounts, extending opening hours and looking at other ways to create an enjoyable shopping experience.
“Everyone can shop in the knowledge that every purchase we make is a retailer helped, a job protected and a local community supported.”
Experts say the return to high streets will be helped by fatigue at purchasing over the net.
Market research firm Ipsos found shoppers buying online have become “stressed” and are no longer enjoying the experience.
Ipsos’s Tim Denison added: “Even three in ten of the young people we assume do everything online prefer the in-store experience.”