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Today is set to be the busiest shopping day of all time in Britain.

Visa says it expects to process around 26.5 million transactions, worth more than £1.2bn in total today. This is a whopping 20 per cent increase on the same time last year.

December 23 is usually the busiest pre-Christmas shopping day before people begin to head home to their families on Christmas Eve.

But it isn’t just the date that will pull customers into shops, says Visa Europe’s Steve Perry: “Extended opening hours and heavy discounting are likely to draw in the crowds and capture those who prefer to see and feel their products prior to purchasing.”

Retailers – who have been severely impacted by the snow in the last week – look forward to a major hike in customers today.

David Barford, director of selling operations at John Lewis says: “December 23 is always a very important pre-Christmas shopping day and, given the pent-up demand due to the snow over the weekend, this year will be no different; if anything it will be especially busy.”

In particular, Barford adds that it’s men buying last-minute gifts for partners and girlfriends that make up a large percentage of John Lewis customers on December 23 and Christmas Eve.

“We’re expecting customers to be out in force making those last-minute purchases. In particular, there are already lots of men out shopping this week, and this will only increase as we get closer to Christmas, with our beauty and lingerie departments both popular destinations,” Barford says.

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