Christmas shoppers venturing out into the fraught environment of a busy high street could be putting their health at risk, according to new research.
Shopping on the high street during the festive season can increase blood pressure to potentially dangerous levels, the study by the University of East London for the Moneysupermarket Shopping comparison service shows.
After just 75 minutes of Saturday Christmas shopping in a busy town centre, half of the shoppers who took part in the study recorded "at risk" blood pressure readings. Heart rate also increased by an average of 10%, the researchers said.
Emotionally, the study found that feelings of stress and irritability rose considerably during the act of Christmas shopping, with men feeling twice as stressed after shopping. Women were almost three times as stressed, and 47% said they had suffered a headache when out gift shopping.
Rob Barnes, head of Moneysupermarket Shopping, said: "Seven out of ten people in the UK view Christmas shopping as stressful. But, for most people, it still has to be done.
"That's why this year more consumers than ever are putting their feet up, eating a mince pie and shopping online. Not only will it be a more relaxing experience, but better deals are generally available online."