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Festive shoppers create 'Panic Saturday'

THERE has been Black Friday, Cyber Monday and now millions of shoppers across the country have made created Panic Saturday.

With just four days left until Christmas, many stores cut their prices today in an attempt to boost sales.

Shopping centres in London, Manchester, Bristol and Cardiff have all seen thousands of people hunting for gifts.

Sally Eden, head of communications for the New West End Company, representing 600 retailers in Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street, said: "It's very busy here. Over this week we've seen footfall steadily rising.

"There's a sense of urgency because Christmas is coming and this is the last weekend. It's the first time many people who have been working can get to the shops. There's also a sense they are looking to make their money go further.

"Historically, there are always promotions leading up to Christmas.

"This is the last weekend and I think shoppers want more for their money. The retailers are working hard to do that but they won't go into full sales until Boxing Day."

Retailers will consider this weekend a last chance to turn their profits around after the British Retail Consortium showed a 3.4% annual drop in footfall from September to November - the sharpest fall since August last year.

Retail sales were up 0.3 per cent in November, while in October they fell 0.9 per cent, the latest official figures from the sector show. Experts said it means that unless a sharp rebound occurs in December, the fourth quarter will be relatively flat.

David Allinson, centre director at Manchester Arndale shopping centre, said customer footfall is comparable with last year but sales are up.

"Not surprisingly, we are very busy. This Saturday and Sunday we are expecting 400,000 shoppers through the doors. We had a record football for this time last year and we are matching that again," he said.

"We have had queues to get into various stores today from 9am. Pandora, the specialist jewellers, have been very popular.

"Parka coats are flying out the doors and it seems to be the year of the tablet. Sales are strong in all categories but fashion and jewellery seem to be selling particularly well. Even our grotto is fully booked today."

Tim Walley, general manager at Birmingham's Bullring, said: "We're expecting one of our busiest Saturdays of the year as customers take advantage of the final weekend before Christmas. We're anticipating that 200,000 customers will visit the centre today with in excess of 100,000 visiting tomorrow."

Officials at Bristol's Cabot Circus shopping centre, now in its fifth year, reported increased sales and footfall.

It is also a bumper weekend for food retailers as households fill their fridges and freezers for the festive feasts.

In the seven days before Christmas Day, supermarket retailer Sainsbury's says it expects to sell 10 million pigs in blankets, 68 million Brussels sprouts, 12 million Christmas crackers and 2.7 million boxes of Christmas cards.

And it said, judging by the amount of mincemeat sold, its customers could bake 19 million mince pies.

The retailer said record numbers of shoppers pre-ordered food and the most popular time to collect orders was between 10am and 1pm on Monday.

Source : Owen Bennett – The Express

21 December 2013
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