The last-minute shopping rush was expected to see £1.31 billion going through the tills today - equivalent to £909,000 every minute.

Research from Sainsbury's Bank Credit Cards revealed 17.79 million people, 38 per cent of adults, intended to do some of their Christmas gift and other buying on December 24.

The bank estimated more than a fifth of this would be placed on credit cards, with about 1.8 million people putting all of their Christmas Eve expenditure on plastic.

More than half a million estimated all their Christmas shopping would be done just a few hours before Christmas Day.

A further 3.8 million expected to do half or more of their Christmas shopping then.

Londoners were the most behind with their presents - 11.7 per cent planned to do the bulk of their shopping on Christmas Eve.

Those in the South East and East Anglia were the most organised.

Lucy Hunter, credit card manager at Sainsbury's Bank, said: "Our research indicates an estimated £282 million will be spent on credit cards on Christmas Eve alone.

"It should be a busy day for the shops with millions of people planning to do some of their shopping on Christmas Eve."

Retailers, who have reported a very slow build up to Christmas this year, were pinning their hopes on a last-minute shopping frenzy.