Shoppers are expected to spend £12bn in just four days as they make the most of slashed prices and promotions, according to retail forecasters.
The deals are being offered as a fierce battle for sales rages both on the high street and online.
Alan Dadswell relies on Christmas to keep his shop Toys ‘N’ Tuck in Southend-on-Sea going and he says discounts are crucial.
He said: “To get people to spend the money they have got to feel they are getting a bargain and we have got to give them a bargain. We have to hunt with our suppliers to do good deals to get people in to the store.”
A sluggish autumn has put added pressure on retailers.
But with 74% of shops offering deals, 13 million people are expected to shop on the high street on the last Saturday before Christmas.
It will help that many people finished work for Christmas on Friday.
But Diane Wehrle, from the shop footfall monitors Springboard, says shoppers are getting increasingly canny.
She said: “Tactics definitely come into it. Shoppers are becoming much more savvy than they used to be. They understand that retailers are slashing prices. They understand they are doing one-off specials and they wait for them.”
“So they perhaps go window shopping before the Christmas trading period starts, look out for what they want to buy and then buy them when they are on offer.”
Lizzy Clarke, armed with bags of gifts in Southend, has made the most of the offers.
“They’ve got some great deals … 75% off in some stores and I’ve just bought some jumpers that cost me £30 last week and this week have cost me £7,” she said.
But Rob Antoniazz, who is unconvinced, said: “The decent items in good shops are never up for sale because the demand is there to buy them.”
Half of the money being spent in the four days to the end of Monday will be on food, with £900m going towards online groceries.
Tesco has sold twice as many turkeys over the internet than last year. At its distribution centre in Erith, Kent, staff are working around the clock preparing orders.