Millions of shoppers hit high streets and shopping centres across the UK over the weekend, injecting a much needed cash boost to an industry that has struggled to deal with decreasing consumer confidence and a significant sales slowdown over the course of this year.
It has been forecast that some £280 million went through tills in London’s West End – Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street – while shopper numbers have been steadily increasing at Capital Shopping Centres’ (CSC) regional hubs across the UK.
New West End Company, which represents retailers in London’s premium shopping district, said that one million shoppers descended on its streets on Saturday alone, spending £180 million in the process – an average of £180 per person.
Final figures have not been confirmed for Sunday’s trading, but total sales were expected to reach £100 million, pushing the two-day total approximately £50 million up on a normal weekend.
Shoppers were drawn to London by the Shop West End VIP Weekend, a non-traffic initiative that meant the roads were pedestrian-only for the two days, while some retailers offered up to 50 per cent off certain products.
New West End Company CEO Richard Dickinson 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.”
Elsewhere in the country, CSC said that all 14 of its centres were “incredibly busy” on Sunday, with cafes and restaurants at “full capacity” by lunchtime.
The property company, which owns some of the largest shopping centres in the UK such as Gateshead’s Metrocentre, Manchester’s Trafford Centre and Lakeside Thurrock, said that families were heading to its retail hubs en masse to enjoy various forms of entertainment as well as Christmas shopping.
Commercial Director at CSC Trevor Pereira remarked: “Last weekend we saw a real shift in consumers behaviour with record numbers turning out to start some serious shopping.
“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 their Christmas gifts.”