Dec 22 2012
Millions of shoppers hit stores across the UK on what was widely expected to become the busiest day of the year on the high street.
Consumers were predicted to spend up to £5 billion over the course of the weekend as many retailers opened their doors until 11pm in the last dash to Christmas.
One credit card company alone said it expected to handle more than 30 million transactions on Saturday.
Crowds flocked to London's West End and shopping centres up and down the country, braving wet and blustery conditions to make the most of early sales and discounts.
Streets were teeming with people in the capital - where Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street were among the busiest hot-spots - and queues built up outside some shops before they opened their doors.
Meanwhile, growing numbers of consumers were still going online to snap up bargains.
Despite gloomy sales figures, cash spending was expected to be up on last year.
Visa Europe said customers were set to spend £1.26 billion on their Visa cards alone.
The company predicted it would process 31.9 million transactions, with 2pm to 3pm on Saturday the busiest hour.
It said shoppers appeared to have saved up for a "spree" this weekend - dubbed "the big one" - with figures showing an incremental increase in spending in recent weeks.