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Last Updated: Monday, 29 December, 2003, 14:51 GMT
Sale shopper numbers up for 2003
Shoppers queue outside Selfridges in Oxford Street
Shoppers are willing to wait until the sales to make purchases
More shoppers hit the holiday sales at the weekend than this time last year, according to new figures.

Monitoring company FootFall said there were 5% more shoppers out compared with the same weekend 12 months ago.

But retailers have some way to go to make up for apparently slow trade in the Christmas run-up, shopper numbers for last week as a whole reveal.

Major UK stores and shopping centres reported long queues at the weekend in the continued search for bargains.

Visitors for the week beginning 22 December were roughly the same as last year, according to data taken from around 80 of the 135 shopping centres monitored in FootFall's survey.

Final figures are expected to be released on Monday afternoon.

Early sales

Marketing manager David Smyth echoed the sentiments of many retail managers when he said shoppers appeared more willing than ever to wait until the sales to try and bag bargains.

It's almost as if people are saying 'I don't need to be the first in the shops for the sales after Christmas' and left it later to start
David Smyth, FootFall
He said the three days before Christmas had been "manic".

"It could have been shoppers were taking advantage of the sales which had started in many places", he said.

"It's almost as if people are saying 'I don't need to be the first in the shops for the sales after Christmas' and left it later to start."

On Sunday, the sales rush continued with the John Lewis store in London's Oxford Street and Manchester's Trafford Centre both swamped before doors opened.

Their strong trading figures were repeated elsewhere on the third day of post-Christmas sales.

Record numbers of retailers had started off the sales frenzy by opening their doors on Boxing Day for the first time.

A spokesman for the Trafford Centre said a third of its 10,500 parking spaces were full by 1100 GMT - an hour before opening time.

General manager Andy Orr said it had been busier than ever this year.

"We have had a lot of families coming in looking for bargains and anything they can get their hands on."

Voucher spending

Lisa Andrews, a spokeswoman for John Lewis, agreed customers seemed to be delaying buying new items until the sales started, a trend which the store was starting to experience every year.

"Lots of people have had money and vouchers to spend from Christmas", she said.

"More and more people hold off spending just before Christmas, ask for money for Christmas and then spend the cash on the sales."

She said a queue of 200 shoppers had formed 45 minutes before the store opened on Sunday.

Most of the bargains to be had at the Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent were in fashion, according to spokesman Alan Jones.

Digital items have been a particular success story this Christmas with shoppers opting for everything from DVD to mobile phones.


SEE ALSO:
No end to sales rush for shoppers
28 Dec 03  |  Business
Shoppers flock for sales bargains
27 Dec 03  |  Business
Christmas sales 'up on last year'
24 Dec 03  |  Business
Music lovers rush to grab iPods
24 Dec 03  |  Technology
Christmas Day trading ban planned
23 Dec 03  |  Business
Digital radios are Christmas hit
22 Dec 03  |  Entertainment
M&S 'hit by weak Christmas sales'
21 Dec 03  |  Business
Busy weekend lifts retail hopes
21 Dec 03  |  Business


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