Changing face of festive spending sees the high street losing out

Britons will splash an estimated £16.7bn on Christmas gifts this year – but only just over half will be spent in traditional high street stores, according to research from a credit card company.

The Santander findings show the average Briton will spend 359 on Christmas gifts over the festive season.

But the high street will get only 57 per cent of it with 38 per cent going to online retailers – equivalent to 6.4bn.

A further 5 per cent (838m) of the festive spend will be received by firms based overseas.

According to the research, 4.2 million (9 per cent) shoppers plan to buy Christmas gifts from overseas online retailers spending on average around 35 per cent of their budget.

An additional 4.2 million will spend around 23 per cent on Christmas shopping while abroad.

Ian Coles, Santander cards director, commented: "With many people tightening their belts, shopping for Christmas gifts online can provide a more cost effective and convenient way of shopping.

"Others are perhaps hoping to seek out a different choice of goods and in some cases preferable exchange rates, with our research showing that around four million people are planning to do all or part of their Christmas shopping abroad."

Younger generations appeared to be the keenest online shoppers.

A total of 80 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds planned to buy Christmas presents using the web compared to 59 per cent of the over 55s.