Brits Prepare to Spend £1.26bn on Visa Cards

London, 18 December 2012 - UK consumers are set to spend £1.26bn on their Visa cards on Saturday 22nd December, making it the busiest high street shopping day of the year, according to analysis by Visa Europe. John Lewis predicts top Christmas gifts including best-selling electricals and toys will fly off the shelves, as Visa expects to process 31.9 million transactions on this one day alone.

With over £1 in every £3 in the UK spent on a Visa card, Visa Europe has unrivalled data to provide insight into consumer spending. Visa bases its predictions on up to the minute spending data and Christmas spending trends from previous years. According to this historical trend data, the busiest shopping day has habitually fallen two days before Christmas day on 23rd December. However, with Christmas Day falling on a Tuesday this year, Visa Europe predicts that the busiest day will instead fall on Saturday 22nd December as consumers take advantage of longer shopping hours and an entire work-free weekend to purchase their last-minute presents.

Throughout the day, the nation’s shoppers are expected to use their Visa cards to spend over £875,000 every minute or almost £15,000 every second, with 80% of this spend set to take place on Visa debit cards. The highest volume of transactions is predicted to take place in the hour from 14.00 until 15.00.

To help customers find their perfect gift in stores on Saturday, John Lewis is launching the ‘Eleventh Hour Elves’ – a team of over 50 helpers across five shops to help advise shoppers on the best last-minute Christmas presents for family and friends. John Lewis anticipates sales of must-have children’s toys such as the high-tech Kurio tablet and more traditional toys such as Lego, board games and scooters to significantly increase on previous weeks, alongside last-minute gift purchases such as cashmere and perfume sets. Throughout the Christmas period, Electrical and Home Technology product sales have soared – last week headphones had a record week at 40% up on last year, and Sonos streaming was up an incredible 112%.

Dr Steve Perry, Commercial Director at Visa Europe, said: “Despite a cautious start to consumer spending in the build-up to Christmas, our data shows that spending has improved slowly but surely and we expect this trend to continue over the coming weekend and right up to Christmas Eve.

“Online retailers have already seen a significant surge in sales this year with £365 million spent online on Visa cards on Mega Monday alone. We are now expecting the High Street to see its busiest day of the year on Saturday with almost £15,000 being spent every second on Visa cards in the hunt for last minute gifts for family and friends.”

Andrew Murphy, John Lewis Retail Director said: "Every year John Lewis welcomes a rush of last-minute Christmas shoppers searching for the perfect presents and, this weekend, our Eleventh Hour Elves will be on hand in our shops to help customers with those tricky decisions for these special gift purchases.

“We've been really pleased with sales over the festive period thus far. On Sunday 16th December, we announced that sales during the previous week rose to a record of £147.8 million, up 11% on the same week last year and this week has seen us maintain our momentum. These fantastic results continue to show that customers trust John Lewis for the year's most important purchases; Christmas gifts for friends and family, whether it is a touch of cashmere luxury, the latest tech gadgets, or our wonderful range of gift food.”

Across Europe, Visa Europe will process around 50 million transactions on 22nd December and around €2.6bn will be spent on Visa cards at retailers across the continent. During Europe’s busiest shopping hour, Visa Europe expects to process more than 34,722 transactions every second.

Visa Europe predicted that Monday 3rd December would be Mega Monday. Its data reveals that its predictions were exceeded. Transactions topped 7 million whilst £365 million was spent online on Visa cards on the UK’s busiest online shopping day.

About Visa Europe

In Europe, there are 460 million Visa debit, credit and commercial cards. In the 12 months ending June 2012 those cards were used to make purchases and cash withdrawals to the value of €1.8 trillion. 14% of consumer spending at the point of sale in Europe is with a Visa card, and almost 80% of that is on Visa debit cards.

Visa Europe is independent of global Visa Inc., with an exclusive, irrevocable and perpetual licence in Europe, while both companies operate to ensure global interoperability. As a dedicated European payment system Visa Europe is able to respond quickly to the specific market needs of European banks and their customers - cardholders and retailers - and to meet the European Commission’s objective to create a true internal market for payments.

Visa enjoys unsurpassed acceptance around the world. In addition, Visa/PLUS is one of the world’s largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in over 200 countries.

For more information, visit http://www.visaeurope.com/

@visaeuropenews

About The John Lewis Partnership

The John Lewis Partnership operates 37 John Lewis shops across the UK (29 department stores and eight John Lewis at home), johnlewis.com and 284 Waitrose supermarkets. The business has an annual turnover of nearly £8.7bn. It is the UK's largest example of worker co-ownership where all 81,000 staff are Partners in the business.

John Lewis - John Lewis, ‘Britain's favourite electricals retailer 2012'* and 'Best Multichannel Retailer 2012' **, typically stocks more than 350,000 separate lines in its department stores. The website stocks over 200,000 products focused on the best of fashion, beauty, home and giftware and electrical items including online exclusives. johnlewis.com is consistently ranked one of the top online shopping destinations in the UK (www.johnlewis.com ). John Lewis Insurance offers a range of comprehensive insurance products - home, car, wedding and event, travel and pet insurance and life cover - delivering the usual values of expertise, trust and customer service expected from the John Lewis brand.

John Lewis is proud to be the official department store provider to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

John Lewis and London 2012 - As part of this partnership with LOCOG (The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) John Lewis operates official London 2012 shops within all its department stores. John Lewis is helping to furnish lounge and reception areas at key Games-time venues as well as offering Partners (staff) the opportunity to support LOCOG in the operation and build-up to the Games. Further to the sponsorship with LOCOG, John Lewis Partnership has developed 'Partners in Sport' an initiative to put something back into the community through sport which includes sponsoring several London 2012 hopefuls as well as funding sports coaches.

* Verdict Consumer Satisfaction Index, April 2012
** PayPal Retail Awards 2012

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