Cost conscious consumers across the Midlands and a tough trading environment are changing the face of Christmas shopping, according to a KPMG survey.
The annual research, conducted by YouGov, found that a total of 86 per cent of Midlanders are reducing their budgets or spending the same as last year.
Just 10 per cent are set to increase the amount they spend and 79 per cent are planning to keep the splurge to a maximum of £500 this year.
At the same time, consumers are now expecting to buy discounted goods and leaving their shopping late to secure bargains.
Of those who have done some form of Christmas shopping this year, nearly three quarters (74 per cent) of shoppers have bought discounted or promotional items. When asked how much Christmas shopping they had already done, 17 per cent of local consumers had done no Christmas shopping at all, with 28 per cent having completed less than half.
Simon Purkess, head of retail at KPMG in Birmingham, said: "These figures show a significant shift in Christmas shopping behaviour, at a time when retailers need shoppers to return to provide the annual boost to trading.
"However, consumers are leaving it late to venture onto the High Street and seeking out discounted goods in a trend which looks set to stay."
The survey also highlights a return to tradition when it comes to grocery shopping with many consumers (39 per cent) rejecting doing all their shopping online.
When asked which products they would never purchase over the internet, fresh food came out on top with 47 per cent, compared with 39 per cent in 2006. Frozen food fared little better with 34 per cent refusing to buy online (from 28 per cent), followed by alcoholic drinks (22 per cent from 16 per cent) and dry goods such as flour and sugar (28 per cent from 16 per cent).
At the same time, there has only been a minimal change in the number of consumers planning to place Christmas food orders online, with a flat 20 per cent stating that they intend to shop this way this year, compared to 23 per cent in 2006.
The survey also reveals welcome signs of growth for online retailers in a number of areas.
Only 15 per cent of shoppers now say they would not buy clothes online (compared with 21 per cent in 2006) while buying shoes online appears to have started to become more accepted with 31 per cent now unwilling to buy on the internet (compared with 30 per cent in 2006).
However, some things never change, with the top irritations of Christmas shopping highlighted as being crowds
and volume of people (77 per cent), queuing (64 per cent), parking (47 per cent) and lack of stock (31 per cent).
Mr Purkess said: "While some of these problems, such as crowds and parking, are out of the direct control of individual retailers, others can be remedied, such as stock availability and ensuring enough staff are at the tills to keep queues down to an absolute minimum.
"In a tough market with many shoppers spending the same or less, leaving shopping later and holding out for promotions, it is crucial that retailers do all they can to ensure that what money is being spent, is spent with them.
"Finally, although these figures paint a gloomy picture, this Christmas should see some growth - albeit marginal - both as a result of the 10 per cent who intend to spend more than last year and last minute impulse buys. However, the polarisation between winners and losers is set to widen further.