Last-minute rush predicted

<p>Retail analysts are expecting a last-minute shopping surge on the high street, despite fears about a wider economic slowdown.</p><p>Bryan Roberts, analyst at Planet Retail, said: &quot;It&#39;s a bit of a double-edged sword for booksellers at the moment. There are quite a lot of strong titles out there, but the downside is that some of the general retailers and supermarkets are hammering away with discounts.&quot; He noted that many of the season&#39;s bestselling titles were currently retailing at half price and added: &quot;For the independents, it&#39;s getting to be a worse and worse place to be.&quot;.</p><p>Nick Bubb at Pali International described the wider retail market as &quot;very tough&quot; but said book retailers had been one of the better performers, with Christmas sales starting earlier than expected. &quot;Last month&#39;s offers saw a lot of business brought forward and there&#39;s still a lot of business that can be done,&quot; he said. &quot;People underestimate just what business can be made during the last few days of trading. A last-minute spree is bound to happen.&quot;</p><p>Richard Dodd from the British Retail Consortium said that Christmas has arrived &quot;very late&quot; this year: &quot;It kicked in properly on Saturday. It&#39;s becoming later and later each year as we&#39;re increasingly becoming a last-minute culture.&quot; Dodd expects like-for-like retail sales to increase by about 3% this year compared to 2006.<br /></p>