By Patti Freeman Evans

Overall, Christmas 2009 may be far better for retailers than expected, following a turbulent year for the retail sector. Many retailers have successfully adjusted their tactics to maximize sales and margins such as reworking their assortments around lower price points. According to Kelkoo, sales in the six weeks to Christmas are expected to reach £44.7 billion this year and account for 18.5% of total annual retail spending. And the best bargains are likely yet to come in the final week before Christmas.

Online will be crucial this year. Consumers are expected to spend £8.9 billion online this Christmas, representing 20p in every £1 spent, and a 24% increase on previous years, according to research carried out by the Centre for Retail Research for Kelkoo. For example, UK internet shoppers are said to have spent £4,000 a second on Cyber Monday.  John Lewis, for example expected sales of £4.5m on December 7 five times more than a normal Monday. We anticipate a healthy Christmas for online, as 85% of consumers intend to maintain or increase their online shopping and more than a third (37%) will shop more online compared to last year, despite the prevailing tough economy.

For deal-conscious shoppers online retailers are increasingly offering online-only promotions and stealth reductions of up to 50%.  Shoppers can find these deals through Web sites such as VoucherCodes which promote the special Internet deals and printable coupons from the likes of Argos, Tesco and Comet.