Christmas shoppers boost retail figures

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MILLIONS of shoppers hit the stores at the weekend helping to boost dwindling retail figures.

Retailers across the UK slashed their prices to entice Christmas shoppers into stores, over what is traditionally one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.

More than 1.5 million shoppers flooded to London’s West End, spending £180 million on Saturday, the New West End Company, which represents 600 traders in Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street, said.

The company anticipates that a further £100m will go through the tills today with people taking advantage of weekend-only discounts and give-aways, and the added incentive of traffic-free streets on Oxford Street and Regent Street.

Richard Dickinson, chief executive of the New West End Company, said: “Christmas has really gone off with a bang this weekend. Based on past experience we were confident that despite the slow start to seasonal spending, shoppers would get the tills ringing over the next two weeks but this weekend has exceeded expectations.

“Compared to VIP Day last year, when Sunday saw traffic come back into the area, retailers are reporting significant rise in sales, with winter fashion and technology the most popular items.

“It’s a real shoppers market out there with stores offering discounts of up to 50% and the tactic is working with £20m going through the tills in the first three hours of Saturday’s trading.”

Capital Shopping Centres (CSC), which operates 14 malls including the Trafford Centre in Manchester, Lakeside in Thurrock, and St David’s in Cardiff, reported that customers had been queuing since 9am in some places and car parks were almost at full capacity by midday.

Trevor Pereira, commercial director at CSC, said: “We’ve had over eight million shoppers through the doors of our 14 centres this week with families enjoying the festive atmosphere in our shopping centres as they stock up on Christmas gifts.”

The group said sales of weather stations were doing particularly well and ginger bread men, panettone and chocolate coins are flying off the shelves at John Lewis.