Christmas shoppers asked to start browsing now – with online retail facing huge demand in December

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Christmas shoppers are being encouraged to begin browsing for presents early this year – with retailers warning that December demand could be higher than ever before.

This summer saw the closure of hundreds of brick-and-mortar stores in the UK as the country entered lockdown; with shoppers turning to websites and e-commerce to place orders.

With tighter restrictions being introduced ahead of the winter and a renewed emphasis on staying indoors, retailers are anticipating an unprecedented flood of web traffic during December – with delivery services being stretched to full capacity to meet demand.

Online retail is now preparing for a festive season – with customers advised to start looking for gifts soon and spread their shopping out across the winter to avoid missing out or suffering delays.

The BBC reports that the industry body for online retailers, IMRG, is expecting “really very excessive” volumes this year.

Christmas shoppers are being told that panic-buying is unnecessary, but purchasing bit-by-bit could prove enormously beneficial rather than attempting to grab gifts in one go.

“Whilst that in itself is not a problem, getting too much of it too close to Christmas is going to be a bit of a problem,” said IMRG representative Andy Mulcahy.

“If you can spread out your shopping and do quite a lot of it in November, maybe even a bit of it now, then that would really help.”

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Many major firms will also be launching recruitment drives ahead of Christmas to cater for higher demand – which may help to give the economy a much-needed boost during what is being labelled a “challenging” winter period.

Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s have confirmed that they’re already seeing a spike in Christmas food searches on their websites.

Boots has launched early Christmas offers with a Star Gift range, whilst John Lewis and Argos have also opened their online Xmas stores ahead of schedule.

Higher demand may also come in for Christmas Cards in 2020 – with fewer people expected to make journeys outside their homes and send festive wishes via post instead (Health Secretary Matt Hancock is refusing to rule out students having to stay in halls over Christmas, for example).

Some retail experts say there may also be more emphasis on decorations rather than food this year; as Brits dine around tighter tables in smaller numbers.

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