Fears over the supply chain and that the new Covid variant may shut stores means 11.6 million of us are likely to hit the shops on Monday.

Retail experts predict a record ­number of bargain hunters will head to the shops on Cyber Monday – and it will be busier than Black Friday in a major boost for our struggling high streets..

They estimate almost £3.5billion will be spent, with £1.15bn in stores and £2.23bn online.

Experts say the surge will be driven by fears over supply chains - and worries the new Covid variant could see shops shuttered again.

Some 11.6million ‘bricks and mortar’ shoppers will spent £1.15 billion.

A further £2.23billion is predicted to be spent online, taking the total four day Black Friday Weekend spree to £9.1billion, according to analysts at shopping site VoucherCodes.

Kyle Monk of the British Retail Consortium

Store bosses are banking on the pre Christmas splurge to relieve covid hit high streets. Currys are running half price deals while John Lewis, Argos and Boots are offering big discounts.

Early data shows shoppers are spending more than they did before the pandemic with top sellers including TVs, laptops and tablets.

Barclaycard says Black Friday transactions were 23 per cent higher than in 2020 when the shopping weekend was entirely online. And the firm, which processes £1 in every £3 spent using cards, said there was a 2.4 per cent rise in the level of payments compared with the same period in 2019.

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Anita Naik of online site VoucherCodes said: “Black Friday weekend has truly been supercharged this year, with bumper shopper numbers and retail sales.

"Retailers often reserve bonus discounts for Cyber Monday to round off Black Friday weekend and attract additional customers, so if shoppers have been holding off on making a big purchase or still have items to cross off their Christmas list, tomorrow could be the perfect day to grab themselves a deal.”

Kyle Monk of the British Retail Consortium, which represents big high street names, said: “Last year, Black Friday was very much a non-event given most of the country was under lockdown for the entirety of November in 2020.

"With some retailers stretching sales out across the whole month, it looks like overall spending is likely to be higher than ever. TVs, domestic appliances, clothing and many other items have all benefitted from discounts, making it a great opportunity for consumers to pick up bargains ahead of Christmas.”

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Independent shops also reported brisk trade. Shoplocalonline.org founder Jackie Mulligan, a member of the Government’s high street task force, said: “So far, the feedback we’re getting from many of the small high street independents we work with is that Black Friday has been a blinder.

“It’s certainly not the case for all our businesses, but overall the response we’re getting is positive and better than expected. People are voting for small businesses with their feet, which is highly encouraging as we enter the critical festive sales period.”

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Retail intelligence firm Springboard, which monitors shopper numbers, says retailing is now back to “full throttle”.

It recorded a 6.9 per cent increase in Black Friday shoppers from the previous week and said shopping centres saw the biggest rise with a 17.3 per cent jump in customers.

But Springboard boss Diane Wehrle said high street numbers were down slighly compared to the previous Friday, suggesting that Covid and the fact that many people are still working from home reduced the number of shoppers who ventured out to shop on a working day.

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The annual spending splurge, which began in the US, comes despite warnings to expect less generous discounts and some shortages this year as retailers struggle to cope with global supply problems.

Experts say shortages of microchips needed for gaming consoles like the PlayStation 5 will continue until next year.

A Confederation of British Industry survey highlighted concerns among shoppers they won’t get the presents they want if they leave it until the last minute this year.

CBI economist Ben Jones said: “Christmas seems to have come early for retailers, with clothing and department stores in particular seeing a big upward swing in sales volumes in November.”

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