BARGAIN-SEEKING Wearsiders are cashing in this Christmas.
Retail bosses says shoppers have been holding on to their money to see what the sales bring – and were expecting a last-minute surge this weekend followed by a frantic few days as the sales kick off on Monday.
Bridges manager Andy Bradley said footfall in the centre was up by more than two per cent year-on-year, with shoppers spending more time looking for bargains and not afraid to put their spending on hold.
He predicted a last-minute rush, saying: “We really expect people to go for it.”
He added: “It is a fact that people are hanging back – they are all waiting to see what the final bargains are going to be. It is as uncomplicated as that.
“The people of the North East won’t let Christmas be spoiled. They like to treat their kids and they like to treat themselves.
“They like a good time at Christmas, but they are waiting for the sales.”
In Washington, David McNee was gearing up for his first Christmas in charge at The Galleries shopping centre and said the aisles were busy.
“Footfall is holding up really well,” he said.
“Like-for-like on last year, a lot of retailers are doing well because the weather was major deterrent last year.”
The pattern is the same as The Bridges, with shoppers on the look-out for cut-price deals.”
He added: “People are more likely to spend when they are getting a good deal. In general, people are more likely to try to grab themselves a bargain.”
The centre’s range of shops meant it had plenty to attract the bargain-hunters.
“We have got quite a robust offer in this type of atmosphere,” said Mr McNee.
Nationally, shopper numbers have been up sharply in the final week before Christmas as consumers take advantage of promotions and discounts.
The year-on-year growth, up 2.3 per cent across all locations, was helped by last year’s relatively weak performance, when snow hit shopper numbers.
British Retail Consortium general manager Stephen Robertson said: “This is confirmation that last weekend was the big shopping weekend retailers had been hoping for.
“After a late start to Christmas buying, consumers were out on the streets in greater numbers than for the same week in 2010, although the big question is whether it has translated into enough actual spending to make up for a largely disappointing year.
“Retailers have been working hard to encourage people into their stores, running exceptionally high levels of promotions and discounts.”
He added: “They’ll be relieved to see that effort paying off but, for some, the season still hangs in the balance.
“Many sales are being made at the expense of margins and good trading, particularly on Christmas Eve, will be crucial.”