Shops across the country saw a boost of £1.75 billion in Christmas spending last weekend in what was the busiest retail weekend of the year so far.
The West End reaped the rewards of a surge in Christmas shoppers, seeing a 17.7 per cent rise in Saturday footfall against last year and recording sales of over £200 million in a single weekend.
Jace Tyrell, Director of New West End Company, which manages the area around Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street, said: “The next eight days are a massive trading opportunity for retailers to really draw ins hoppers visiting London’s retail heartland, and create a magical Christmas atmosphere for visitors to enjoy.
“This is a critical time for the area, as most retailers will take half their annual profits during the Christmas period.”
Luxury items are selling well in the West End, with Selfridge’s goose sales up 30 per cent on last year, goose being perceived as more of a gastronomic luxury than turkey.
Between 3 and 4pm on Saturday, the tills at Fortnum & Mason were busier than the best hour in store in 2011, which fell over a week later on December 23rd in that year.
Commenting on the retailer’s surge in sales, Fortnum & Mason’s CEO, Ewan Venters, said: “We have had another amazing day, customers want to celebrate Christmas and are stocking up on traditional treats such as Christmas puddings, mince pies and stilton.”
Retailers have been concerned by slow sales in the early part of the festive period, and the Economist Intelligence Unit’s chief retail analyst, Jon Copestake, believes that this is a result of British shoppers changing their habits.
Mr Copestake said: “The rush of last minute shopping has become a feature of the UK festive calendar in recent years.
“Many left it as late as Christmas Eve last year and the timeliness of weekends around Christmas plays a key part in influencing sales spikes.”
Noting that retailers should be cheered by the prospect of more last-minute shoppers boosting sales next weekend, he added: “Sales may have been distorted by stores bringing forward discounts and the current economic climate has certainly led to many consumers playing a waiting game to take advantage of pre-Christmas sales.”