Tonight: Christmas Shopping Wars

christmas display in shop
Christmas is vital to many retail businesses Photo: ITV / Tonight

Love it or loathe it, we’re set to spend almost £90 billion on Christmas this year. It’s the crescendo of the retailing calendar and after years of belt-tightening, the next few weeks are likely to be more important than ever.

The battle between the high street and the internet is becoming even more fierce as our shopping habits change and online sales increase. Last year saw almost 12% of purchases being made online and this year, there are likely to be even more. In the Tonight programme – on ITV at 7.30pm tonight – ITV’s Business Editor Laura Kuennsberg investigates who will be the retail winners and losers this year.

For some retailers, success depends on making sure Christmas shopping is part of the festive fun. Maggie Porteous is Director of Selling for John Lewis and she told us that they want to get their shoppers in the Christmas spirit.

christmas decorations in a shop
John Lewis, ready for festive shoppers Credit: ITV / Tonight

But for Gareth Jones from online retail company Very.co.uk, it’s about price, convenience and avoiding the queues. And with experts predicting that online sales will rise by £2 billion this Christmas, who will win the fight for our Christmas pound?

web shopping warehouse
The Very.co.uk warehouse Credit: ITV / Tonight

As online sales are rising high street shops are closing. 7,000 shut last year and veteran retailer Bill Grimsey predicts more will follow. He conducted his own review of the UK’s High Streets and concluded they were “as good as dead”, beaten by technology and changes to how we shop. Bill says to save our high streets retailers need to adapt and incorporate technology into the shopping experience. He has a vision of the future including hologram mirrors, virtual changing rooms and shopping accounts on mobile phones.

But this technology comes too late for one independent retailer - Simpson’s Toy Shop in Stowmarket. It’s been a family run business for over 100 years but owner Ernie and son Phil can no longer compete on price with large online companies and supermarkets who buy in bulk. This Christmas they will close their doors for the last time.

To find out the pros and cons of shopping online or in-store, two families took part in our Christmas shopping challenge. We gave them a budget of £450 and a list of nine Christmas items to buy either entirely online or just in-store.

The volunteers for the shopping challenge are the Griggs family from Essex and the Foleys from Leeds.

Family pose outside house
The Griggs hate going to the shops and do most of their shopping online, so we’ve asked them to buy the shopping on the list in-store. Credit: ITV / Tonight
Family pose on sofa
The Foleys say trips to the shops get them in the festive spirit - they don’t like online shopping. So we ask them to buy the items online! Credit: ITV / Tonight

Find out how they got on in Tonight: Christmas Shopping Wars at 7:30pm on ITV.