Festive shopping frenzy to give high street £1.4m boost – but fears of road hell

A sales bonanza is set to give the high street a £1.4 billion boost on Super Saturday – but shoppers are being warned of chaos on the roads.

More than ten million bargain hunters are expected to flock to stores on Saturday in a last minute spending spree to cash in on the best deals in town.

But the buying frenzy is set to cause gridlock as the great Christmas getaway, shopping extravaganza and afternoon football matches in the top flight are in danger of turning it into Stricken Saturday.

Experts are warning 1-2pm and 5-6pm will be the worst times to be on the UK’s roads as cars grind to a standstill.

Shopper numbers are expected to soar 20% compared with an ordinary Saturday according to retail analysts ShopperTrak.

The organisation’s UK director Steve Richardson said: “In spite of retailers offering later and later fulfilment options, shoppers will head on to the high street, fuelled by the fear that online gifts may not arrive in time for the big day, as well as taking advantage of click-and-collect orders.”

With prices slashed by up to 80% in a last ditch bid to save Christmas on the high street, hordes are expected to throng shopping malls with traffic jams forecast from 6.30am.

Crowds will be jostling for the best deals from Westfield, London and Bluewater, Kent to Birmingham’s Bullring and the Trafford Centre, Manchester with high streets across the country also elbow to elbow with last minute Christmas shoppers.

Too good to miss deals include half price toys like a K’Nex building set down from £50 to £25 at Argos, trainers slashed by up to 80% at Sports Direct and designer fragrances like Gucci Bamboo down by 45% from £58 to £31.61 at Boots.

But analysis by real-time traffic app Waze predicts millions hitting the roads face traffic misery with serious congestion in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh in the Christmas shopping rush.

In the capital, jams are expected to start from 6.30am with snarl ups along the A40 near Wembley and the A1261 by the O2 Arena.

Peak shopping hours between 1-3pm in Manchester will see cars nose-to-tail around Salford Shopping City as well as heavy traffic around Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium when their home game kicks off at 3pm.

The data reveals towns with toy shops, book stores and jewellers will see the volume of traffic rocket by 132% compared with a normal Saturday while department stores and supermarkets will see a 41% increase in the number of drivers trying to find parking spaces.

Waze, UK country manager Finlay Clark said: “The roads will be even worse this year than they were at the same point 12 months ago, as people choose the weekend to travel, seeking to avoid late night travel on Friday to get around the country for Christmas.

“We’re also expecting to see more people who don’t drive regularly to be hitting the roads due to trains being unavailable, so it’s important that drivers are more mindful and aware of others on the roads.”

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