United Kingdom

More festive shopping done online for first time this year in further blow to 'ghost town' centres 

More Christmas shopping will be done online than on the high street for the first time this year, leaving town centres deserted.

More than half of gifts, clothes and household products are expected to be bought on the web – up from 31 per cent last year.

Delivery industry experts fear the courier and postal system will struggle to cope with the surge while supermarkets are unlikely to have enough delivery slots.

More than half of gifts, clothes and household products are expected to be bought on the web – up from 31 per cent last year

Even before next month's Black Friday, many retailers, including John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Debenhams, are offering reductions of as much as 50 per cent. 

And Topman has slashed many prices as it battles cheap fast fashion online rivals. 

The deals are part of a wider effort by stores to encourage households to begin their Christmas shopping early.

More Christmas shopping will be done online than on the high street for the first time this year, leaving town centres deserted (stock image used) 

Retail industry expert Richard Hyman said: 'I predict online sales will break the 50 per cent barrier for the first time.' 

The trend will be another blow to 'ghost town' streets where more than 11,000 chain store outlets have closed during the pandemic.

Mr Hyman predicted the retail crisis will come to a head next year. 'The country has too many shops,' he said. 

'A lot of them have no future and town centres will have to become something else.' 

Even before next month's Black Friday, many retailers, including John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Debenhams, are offering reductions of as much as 50 per cent (stock image used)

Courier industry expert David Jinks, of ParcelHero, said record online spending is likely to create the 'Mount Everest of Christmas peaks' for deliveries.

He warned: 'A capacity crisis is set to cause delivery chaos. The huge demand for deliveries is being compounded by the reported loss of a quarter of a million EU nationals from the UK economy this year. 

'With supply chains stretched to breaking point, we advise online shoppers to buy presents in good time.'

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