As Britons get ready to finish off their gift buying for the year, new research* by shopping centre owner intu has found that nearly one in five (19%) now take time off work to make the most of a Christmas shopping trip.

The research for intu’s Countdown to Christmas report shows that nearly a third (31%) of Britons have waited until this week to finish buying gifts while as many as one in seven people are yet to even start.

But the rise of leisure-led shopping means that one in five are making more time for the experience by booking time off work to combine shopping with socialising, with a small proportion (5%) taking as many as three and a half days off. 16% said they are more likely to go shopping in the evening at Christmas than at any other time of year.

David Fischel, intu chief executive, said: “Shopping behaviours throughout the year are evolving as a result of changing consumer expectations, new technology and social media, with shoppers looking for something that goes beyond the transactional. Going Christmas shopping remains an important and special part of Christmas tradition as people bring together shopping and socialising like never before.

“Our mission is to create their perfect shopping experience and, by getting it right for them, we’re also getting it right for our retailers.”

Christmas shoppers are also willing to spend an extra £110 looking for festive fun outside of the home according to the figures from intu’s Countdown to Christmas report which shows how a day shopping is as much a part of the Christmas tradition as tree and tinsel. The survey of 2,000 Britons found that on average they are willing to spend the equivalent of 40% of their present-buying budget tracking down Christmas entertainment as they shop, such as a family visit to Santa’s grotto, food and drinks or a trip to the cinema.

An additional survey of 200 top retailers for intu’s report reinforced the importance of the in store experience, with investment in additional staff, decorations and events among the ways retailers intend to win their share of Christmas spend.

And a high number felt having other high performing retailers, bars and restaurant, a Christmas grotto and a lights switch-on event nearby will improve this year’s Christmas trading.