Last minute Christmas shoppers gave Bristol’s Cabot Circus retail centre a boost with visitor numbers during the week to Christmas Eve up by almost a fifth (19%) against the same period last year, which was itself a record.
Footfall over the previous weekend – Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 – was 13% higher than the previous year, a spokesman for the 120-store centre said.
Early indications for this week also positive, with stores reporting a strong Boxing Day.
The figures released so far refer to footfall rather than takings in the stores, which may reflect a trend seen nationwide that people are still visiting shopping centres but possibly not spending as much.
Heavy discounting, particularly by major chain stores, also attracted bargain hunters – with retail experts warning that many shops are sacrificing their margins to pull shoppers through their doors. As a result, more high street chains are likely to go bust over the next month as they count the cost of the massive reductions.
Cabot Circus director Kevin Duffy said the centre overall had enjoyed a good year.
“Throughout 2011, sales have remained strong despite the economic climate – with many retailers seeing increases of around 5%," he said.
He described Boxing Day as “a real shopping frenzy” at the 1m sq ft centre as shoppers were lured by sales at its major retailers House of Fraser and Harvey Nichols.
“Our younger fashion brands have performed very well again this Christmas, as have our anchor stores,” he added. “Our restaurants and cafes have also been very busy. There has been a fantastic festive atmosphere in the centre.”
Harvey Nichols general manager Sue Stones said: “It’s no secret that trading across the high street has been challenging, but it seems that treating ourselves hasn’t gone out of fashion. We have had a positive end to a positive year as our customers continue to spend on good quality products that will stand the test of time.”
She said popular Christmas gifts included perfume and beauty products and services such as its Champagne Nail Bar and Strip Wax Bar.
More figures for Christmas footfall and sales around Bristol, including at the out-of-town Cribbs Causeway centre, are expected next week.