BRITS are being urged to buy Christmas presents earlier than ever before this year to avoid chaotic scenes in stores and online.
All shops are enforcing Covid-19 safety measures including asking customers to social distance and wear face masks.
Christmas shopping will be different this year because of coronavirus
Retailers are also allowing fewer people inside at one time, meaning Brits could face queues outside if shops are too busy during the usual Christmas rush.
As well as benefiting other shoppers, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) says spreading out your shop will allow warehouse workers and delivery drivers to keep a safe distance apart as they’ll need less people on shifts.
It follows separate calls from retail experts at IMRG, the industry body for online retailers, who are predicting delivery backlogs if Brits leave their shopping until the last minute.
The coronavirus pandemic has seen a surge in households relying on online shopping this year.
An official poster for the British Retail Consortium’s Christmas message
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “We’re encouraging people to shop early and prevent the last minute rush so their fellow customers and all the store colleagues, warehouse workers and delivery drivers working behind the scenes, have the space they need to stay safe and well.”
She continued: “September sales figures show signs some customers have already started a little earlier than usual.
“However, we want more people to embrace the true Christmas spirit, think of others and ‘Shop Early, Start Wrapping’ and most of all Enjoy Christmas – however they are celebrating.”
The IMRG estimates shops could face a 30% increase in online sales during the festive season.
However, its analysts stressed there’s no need for Brits to start panic buying – it’s more a case of beating the rush.
Andy Mulcahy from the IMRG told the BBC: “We think the volumes are going to be really very excessive this year.
“If you can spread out your shopping and do quite a lot of it in November, maybe even a bit of it now, then that would really help.”
The BRC also notes that retailers have been strengthening their supply chains in preparation for the festive season.
Turkey orders at Waitrose are up 145% on this time last year, while Sainsbury’s has already sold 1.5million mince pies this year.
Its sales of Christmas puds are also up a third, and Argos has shifted 13,000 Christmas trees — up 170% on 2019.
Meanwhile, retail sales for August, released on September 18, showed sales volumes increased by 0.8% compared to July – suggesting Brits are already spending more.
Figures were up 2.5% compared to February, according to the Office for National Statistics.
It comes as Boris Johnson tries to save Christmas despite pleas from some scientists for a festive lockdown.
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