Britons expect to spend more on Xmas this year

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LONDON, Nov 13 (Reuters) Christmas shoppers remain undeterred by the credit crunch and expect to spend seven percent more during the coming festive season than in 2006, a survey showed today.

Consumers expect to spend on average 706 pounds per person compared with 662 pounds in 2006, according to the Annual Christmas Retail Survey published by the business advisory firm Deloitte.

''Early indicators suggest concerns about bruised financial markets and consumer confidence are nothing more than concerns,'' said Richard Lloyd-Owen, head of consumer business at Deloitte.

''People feel secure in their jobs and the general sentiment is robust ... there's little evidence of household cutbacks,'' he added.

The survey also showed the number of Britons doing their Christmas shopping online would double, while there would be increased demand for high-tech goods.

''This year, Christmas will go electric as consumers embrace the digital age. More people will shop online this year than ever before as the appeal of cyberspace to avoid the Christmas crush takes hold,'' said Tarlok Teji, head of retail at Deloitte.

He said the expected rise in demand for electrical items -- which tend to be expensive -- would push up overall spending, as would the strong demand for luxury goods. Some 19 per cent of consumers have designer items on their Christmas wish lists, according to the survey.

Christmas revellers will indulge more in partying as well as in gift-shopping, according to the survey. Money spent on going out to pubs, clubs and restaurants over the festive period is expected to rise by 18 percent to 143 pounds from 121 in 2006.

The survey also showed that shoppers are ''going local'', with 29 percent shopping in small independent stores, compared to 20 percent last year, reflecting the overall push for quality products.

''Total expenditure on food and drink is up 9 percent on 2006. This is partly driven by consumers trading up and indulging themselves with premium, provenance and fair-trade products,'' said Teji.

REUTERS CS KP0927

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