Oxford Street
Oxford Street is traditionally mobbed at this time of year. shopacoholic.com

Retailers were hoping that the busiest shopping day of the year could see close to £2 billion pass through the tills in just over 12 hours of trading.

Millions of shoppers hit the high street in a frantic bid to get their hands on last-minute gifts in time for Christmas, according to the credit card company Visa.

Visa Europe has predicted that it will process more than 33 million transactions, worth more than £1.5 billion, throughout 23 December across the UK. This means that a staggering £18,000 worth of transactions will take place per second, which represents an 8 percent increase on last year.

Early discounts and bargains are just one of the reasons consumers were pounding pavements.

Many retailers, which have been hit by the economic downtown, went ahead and and launched their January sales ahead of Boxing Day in a desperate bid to cash in on what could potentially be the most lucrative day of the year.

While Visa expects 23 December to be the biggest shopping day overall, it anticipated the busiest shopping hour as between noon and 1pm on Christmas Eve.