By Daniel Hunter

The UK's department stores are set to double their takings this weekend as last-minute shoppers finishing their present buying on 'Panic Saturday', according to payments firm Worldpay.

According to research,the number of card payments processed by department stores in some parts of the UK just prior to Christmas 2013 rose by as much as 224% — and the company expects that to rise even further this year.

Liverpool and Newcastle topped the list, with 224% and 197% increases respectively. Manchester saw trading jump by 189%. Weekly transaction volumes in London’s department stores were 136% higher than in September-October, while in Bristol trading rose by 89%, hinting at a North-South divide in terms of shopper behaviours in the run-up to Christmas.

Worldpay said consumers wil. spend an average of £364.01 on Christmas presents for friends and family across the UK. Shoppers in the North spend an average of £378.43 on gifts, while shoppers in the South spend £351.46.

Dave Hobday, Managing Director, Worldpay UK, said: “Department stores are magnets for shoppers who find themselves in the last-chance saloon in the final few days before Christmas. Many of these eleventh-hour shoppers will be breaking into a cold-sweat at the thought of heading to the High Street on the busiest shopping day of the year and praying for someone to take the pain away.

“Retailers of all sizes are working harder than ever to make shopping more merry than manic for customers this Christmas. This year in particular we’re seeing more retailers using tablets and mobile devices, which allow staff to take payments anywhere in-store, and help reduce busy shopping queues. This holiday season, it’s about making the shopping experience as easy and enjoyable as scoffing a mince pie.”

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