It should have been the busiest shopping weekend of the year.
Recession-hit retailers were pinning their hopes on the last weekend before Christmas for a bumper payday.
But the Arctic weather put the shopping spree on ice for many, and left Birmingham city centre shopkeepers praying for a thaw.
Bosses at the Bullring Shopping Centre had been expecting as many as 300,000 shoppers to come through the doors before the winter weather struck on Saturday morning.
But a spokesman said they won’t find out until today (Monday) how the snow had affected sales.
IT worker Pete Evans, from Bearwood, was one of those who braved the weather on Saturday to buy last minute gifts in Birmingham.
“For the Saturday before Christmas, it looked like a ghost town,” said the 26-year-old. “People just want to get in and out as quickly as possible because they were worried about getting stranded in the snow.”
Theresa Smith, from Cannock, Staffordshire, said: “I had been planning to travel into Birmingham on the train with my daughters for some last-minute shopping.
“But the snow was coming down so fast that we struggled even to make it to the railway station in town. In the end, we decided to head back home. Hopefully, we will get the chance to finish our shopping before Christmas.”
With savings to be made before a January increase in VAT, and many deliveries for online customers falling victim to the snow, shops had expected a frantic weekend at the checkouts.
The Merry Hill Centre at Brierley Hill and the Mander Centre in Wolverhampton had been expecting more than 100,000 shoppers, while Saddlers Centre in Walsall was hoping for 40,000 people.
But Birmingham City Council said its markets had closed early due to poor footfall and worried traders heading home.