The Retail FootFall Index, released by Experian-owned retail analyst FootFall this week, showed an increase of 35.5% in shopper visits compared to the same Friday last week. But levels are still below 2005 with footfall 13.4% down year on year.

The industry will be watching closely to see if companies like Woolworths and HMV can make enough of a recovery to beat the profit warnings both issued earlier this month or the e-commerce gaffs caused by compromised e-voucher schemes and mis-priced products.

Natasha Burton, FootFall marketing manager said: "The last Friday’s trading before Christmas didn't disappoint, with the number of shoppers out hunting gifts up a massive 35.5% on last Friday, but footfall levels were still considerably down on 2005.

"We are now into the all important final weekend and there is everything to play for as the countdown continues. As the increasing volumes of shoppers hit the streets looking for those last minute items, it will be a battle between retailers as to who can tempt the shopper enough to ensure they have a prosperous Christmas.”