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  1. ITV Report

Stores left underwhelmed after final Christmas push on Super Saturday

High streets across the UK have enjoyed a bustling final Saturday before Christmas but many stores remain underwhelmed by their takings.

In what has been a difficult year for the high street, retailers were desperately hoping for a last-minute rush of Christmas shoppers on so-called Super Saturday.

Consumers were expected to spend around £1.7 billion on the day, but the signs were increasingly clear that online is winning the battle against in-store.

ITV News visited St Albans on Saturday where retailers were hoping for a big day of takings following a weather washout last weekend.

Many told ITV News they were underwhelmed with the volume of shoppers, something they are becoming increasingly used to.

St Albans shops were hoping for a big windfall on Super Saturday.

In a bid to entice shoppers, most of the shops had introduced sales of up to 60% - something more traditionally associated with Boxing Day.

Many of the businesses hoping to bag big sales were left disappointed, however.

Cynthia James, a market trader in St Albans for 15 years, said that business was "very grim".

Cynthia James described business as 'very grim'.

"I've been a trader since I was 15 and this year has been the worst year," she told ITV News.

"Since online shopping has been introduced that has been a big factor.

"Most of the big stores you chat to, a lot of them have said it's down all in the big stores as well as everywhere else.

"Plus, I don't think Brexit is helping."

Many stores in St Albans have already introduced Boxing Day-style sales.

Many medium-sized businesses in St Albans had hoped that online shopping would boost their takings.

Jane Price, a shopkeeper at a specialist cookery store, was among those increasingly reliant on online purchases.

"Obviously the high street is suffering," she told ITV News.

"We're just a medium-sized shop here. The company has a much wider range of products which we don't stock here.

"But customers can look online, order it and come in and collect it."

Jane Price says her shop increasingly relies on online sales.

Despite stores introducing early sales, this is unlikely to reverse a worrying trend in retail in a year which has seen big high street names disappear and profits wane.

In St Albans at least, it is increasingly clear people prefer to shop online.

Many people told ITV News they had made all of their Christmas purchases online.

Some £1.7 billion was expected to be spent on Super Saturday.

Rachel Lund from the British Retail Consortium said the high street faced a tough battle to evolve in a bid to remain competitive.

"The shift to shopping online is a challenge for retailers because they're having to change their business models," she said.

"Also, you've got the fact that consumer demand is pretty weak.

"We've just come out of two years of a fall in real wages because of inflation and that has put pressure on people's ability to spend."

Super Saturday may be one of the busiest days of the year for high streets, but the goodwill of shoppers will have to extend further if fortunes are to turn around.