Darth Vader, Jeremy Clarkson and astronaut Tim Peake might sound like the perfect fantasy Christmas dinner, but these are the names most likely to be found in stockings this year.

With three weeks left to wrap up their Christmas shopping, consumers are expected to rely on books, gadgets and toys to spread some festive cheer this year. However, most festive shoppers are planning on cutting back their spending.

Third of shoppers to loosen belt this year

One in three Christmas shoppers plan to buy more presents this festive season than last year, a survey has revealed.

Employment specialist Randstad UK asked 5,527 website visitors if they would spend more or less on Christmas presents this year.

In a sign of confidence at the cash till, almost 1,800 respondents (32%) said they would stuff more gifts into stockings than they did 12 months ago.

Overall consumer confidence was pegged back by the 32% of poll respondents who said they would put fewer presents under the tree this year. It means nearly two-thirds of shoppers (64%) are prepared to change their spending habits this Christmas, suggesting they have been impacted financially by events in 2016.

Seven per cent said they were going to spend the same as the Christmas before while 29% seemed prepared to leave it late to decide on presents and did not know what their budget was.

Mark Bull, chief executive of Randstad UK, said the survey results reflected a positive mood in the UK workforce. "An increase in consumer spending is a sign of a confident workforce and in this case a generous one, too.

Of course, there are shoppers who look out for early January sales and leave it late to decide how much they will spend. There are also those who set out cautiously but end up being swept up in the festivities and spending more than they planned.

"There has been a level of uncertainty since the vote to leave the European Union but if we keep Britain working and earning it will carry on spending."