Santas in the supermarketPeter Jordan/PA Archive/Press Association Images

This weekend sees the busiest trading day of the year - December 23. However, the day falls on a Sunday, which tends to bring chaos in the shops. Instead of having a typical 14 hours to shop, we all pile through the doors to cram a full day's shopping into the six hours they are allowed to open on a Sunday.

So what are the shops doing, and what can you do?


The concern that the shops have is that we will all try to cram into the supermarkets around lunchtime on Sunday. The hours between 12 and 2pm are expected to be the heaviest, but the whole day will be something of a nightmare.

Tactics

The shops have employed a number of tactics. Sainsbury's is ensuring that checkout staff are set to stay on an hour after the doors are closed in many stores, so shoppers have a chance to get through the tills before they lose the will to live.

Hundreds of branches of Tesco, Asda, Marks & Spencer's and Sainsbury's are also opening at midnight on Christmas Eve. Many will then stay open late into the night.

So what should you do?

Sadly most people can't avoid hitting the shops with the world and his wife at this stage, because the online shopping delivery slots in many areas are booked up until 27 December or beyond.

You are left with a few options: you can do your shopping early, and get to the supermarket as soon as possible. The issue here is that you won't be the only one with this idea. Supermarkets across the country are bulging at the seams already.

You can take a deep breath and shop on Sunday - bearing in mind that it'll be hell and that you're going to need a very large cup of tea when you finish.

Or you can shop at odd hours. If you can get to the supermarket in the dead of night - in the early hours of Christmas Eve - you should be able to enjoy a peaceful shopping trip.

Alternatively you can shop late on Christmas Eve. However, you will be taking a chance that the staples won't have run out. Plus, you run the risk of running into the last-minute shoppers - which could make everything a great deal more stressful. Sainsbury's has calculated that across the UK we will spend £1.3 billion on last-minute shopping on Christmas Eve.

And you don't want to be in their way when they're trying to part with this cash in a rush at ten minutes to midnight on Christmas Eve