Retailers brace for last minute Christmas shopping rush on Christmas Eve

Monday 23 December 2019

Waitrose and John Lewis predict everyday items (including bananas and double cream), novelty socks and gadgets will be top of last minute shopping lists this Christmas. 

Waitrose and John Lewis are predicting a last minute rush to their shops on Monday and Tuesday next week, with Waitrose & Partners expecting a 100% surge in sales compared to the previous week as customers visit to pick up forgotten essentials and John Lewis customers shop for last minute gifts and household items for guests.

New research from Waitrose shows that almost half (48%) of Brits* say their biggest worry is planning a Christmas meal and forgetting a key ingredient or item. But according to the food retailer, it’ll be forgotten everyday items that shoppers will be flooding to stores to purchase on December 23rd and 24th - set to be the busiest shopping days for the two retailers** - with milk, double cream and lemons set to be the most popular food items purchased.

As for last minute gifts, John Lewis predicts novelty socks, gadgets such as airpods and smart speakers and LEGO will be among the most popular festive impulse purchases as customers rush to the shops to get their final gifts and hosting essentials.

The top 10 items people will be visiting shops to buy before Christmas, include:

Waitrose & Partners

John Lewis & Partners

1. Milk

1. Apple AirPods

2. Double cream

2. Google Home Mini

3. Lemons

3. GHD Original Hair Straightener

4. Cucumbers

4. Dyson Airwrap

5. Easy peeler clementines

5. Rubix Cube

6. San Leo Prosecco Brut

6. Unlit Festive Fir Tree

7. Bread

7. Pom Pom Fur Onesie

8. Limes

8. John Lewis & Partners Synthetic
Soft Touch Washable Pillow 

9. Bananas


10. Strawberries

10. Novelty Christmas Stag
Socks for Men

Susan Sampson, Manager, Supply Chain Configuration & Planning at Waitrose, comments: “Our customers have been largely prepared in 2019, with record numbers of Waitrose shoppers pre-ordering their turkeys in October and record sales of Christmas decorations bought in John Lewis that month.”

“But while certain elements are sorted, we’re forecasting a huge final surge on Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th, as Waitrose customers visit to top up on everyday essentials forgotten during the Christmas rush and John Lewis customers make a last minute dash to buy gifts.”

Anna Berry, Partner and Head of Gift Buying at John Lewis said: “Maybe the reason we see so many customers buying expensive last minute gifts is because many people find those closest to them the hardest people to buy for. Our recent research found that more than one in five of us find our partners are the hardest people to buy for, followed by our parents.”

Food Glorious Food (festive favourites by numbers):

In the final days leading up to Christmas, Waitrose is predicting to sell:

  • 214,000kg of sprouts, the equivalent weight of 1,424 reindeer. 
  • 61,000 packs of red cabbage, which is a total of 22 tonnes or 4.5 Asian elephants.
  • 60.3 tonnes of smoked salmon and 9 million glasses of fizz.
  • Enough jars of Waitrose essential cranberry sauce will be bought to go up and down the Eiffel Tower six times.
  • Over 250% more quail eggs compared to typical trading periods.
  • Over 40% more luxury toiletries, with products including Cath Kidston Christmas Hand Cream and Neal’s Yard Revive Shower Gel and Bliss Bath projected to rise by 60% the day before Christmas.


*Based on research by OnePoll conducted in September 2019

**12-1pm will be the busiest trading hour on Monday 23rd for Waitrose, with 9-10am on the same day the most popular delivery slot for picking up festive food and drink orders.

1 Survey by Onepoll. Carried out among 2,000 UK adults who celebrate Christmas in December 2019

About John Lewis & Partners

John Lewis & Partners operates 50 shops across the UK (36 department stores, 12 John Lewis at home and shops at St Pancras International and Heathrow Terminal 2) as well as In the changing world of retail, John Lewis is focused on competing through differentiation and innovation in three key areas - unique own brand and exclusive products that customers cannot buy anywhere else, exceptional Partner-centric service and experiences, and its expanding range of financial and home services that wrap around everything it sells. John Lewis won Best Retailer, Best Electricals Retailer, Best Homewares Retailer and Best Furniture Retailer at the GlobalData Customer Satisfaction Awards 2019, and its Westfield White City shop won Best New Store at the Retail Week Awards 2019.

For news and updates from the John Lewis & Partners PR team, follow @johnlewisandpartnerspr

About Waitrose & Partners

Waitrose & Partners has 338 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 61 convenience branches, and another 27 shops at Welcome Break locations. It combines the convenience of a supermarket with the expertise and service of a specialist shop - dedicated to offering quality food that has been responsibly sourced, combined with high standards of customer service. Waitrose & Partners is an employee-owned business - all employees are Partners and have a say in how the business is run.

Waitrose & Partners exports products to more than 50 countries worldwide and has nine shops which operate under licence in the Middle East. The retailer's omnichannel business includes the online grocery service,, as well as specialist online shops including for wine and for plants and flowers. 


Waitrose & Partners

Matt Clemens
Partner & Communications Manager
Tel: +44 (0)1344 826747