UK shopping centres celebrate record footfall over the Christmas period

Leading UK shopping centres have reported record footfall on Boxing Day and over the festive period in general.

Manchester Arndale, the UK’s largest inner city shopping centre, said it has seen one of its busiest Boxing Days to date. The start of the sales season went off with a bang with more than 185,000 shoppers through the doors. Between midday and 4pm alone, over 90,000 people came to the centre, making the most of the 240 stores and eateries and sales offering up to 75% off RRP.

The centre reported queues formed outside Next, famed for its Boxing Day sales launch, from the early hours with more than 4,500 waiting to snap up bargains when the doors opened at 6am. The Boxing Day rush followed on from an exceptionally busy Christmas-present purchasing weekend, as more than 450,000 people visited Manchester Arndale on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 to get last minute gifts. Christmas Eve on Monday proved the centre’s busiest on record as more than 150,000 people came down to buy last minute gifts – 12.5% more people than the same day in 2011.

David Allinson, centre director at Manchester Arndale, said: “We recorded hundreds of thousands through the doors in the weeks leading up to Christmas, smashing previous records for the single busiest Saturday and Sunday of all time. The Boxing Day picture has been much the same as shoppers have rushed to be first to get huge discounts on a range of products. There are still a host of offers to be had and we expect shoppers to continue making the most of the extraordinary discounts well into January.”

thecentre:mk, the regional shopping centre located within the heart of Central Milton Keynes, reported that despite the challenging national retail picture, it has enjoyed record footfall figures, both in the weeks leading up to Christmas and over the festive period.

thecentre:mk saw over 26,000 customers within the first five hours of trading on Boxing Day as stores launched seasonal promotions. Next, which completed its refurbishment and extension earlier this year, has reported increased sales of 30% – popular departments include menswear and childrenswear. At House of Fraser sales were up 9% on last year and it is predicted slashed prices will continue to tempt more bargain hunters over the coming days.

These positive reports follow on from an extremely successful week leading up to Christmas. John Lewis reported 15% sales increases on last year with takings hitting the £4m mark, a figure not experienced since 2007. At Marks & Spencer Food Hall, sales increases of 60% were reported. Boots also hit the million pound mark. The centre said contributing factors include the recent renovation works carried out to John Lewis, Next and House of Fraser; extended opening hours, with stores such as BHS claiming this led to increases of up to 6%; and the decision made by some stores to hold off the sale period until Christmas Eve.

Robert Hall, centre director at thecentre:mk, said: “It has been incredibly busy with queues of over 2,000 people developing at 1.15 am in the morning on Boxing Day outside Next. This is a crucial time for retailers and the phenomenal success we have seen over the Christmas and sale launch period is evidence of the strong local and regional pull of thecentre:mk.

“The sales are now in full swing and we are confident that with some huge reductions in stores including House of Fraser, John Lewis, Boots, Next, BHS and Marks and Spencer we will continue to attract more crowds as we move into 2013. 

“We will continue to welcome guests to enjoy all we have to offer in the centre and this year’s Christmas display ‘Land of Enchanted Dreams’, complete with miniature railway, will remain open until 2 January 2013.”