Shop bosses are bracing themselves for a frantic day today as the post-Christmas sales season starts.
Bridges boss Andy Bradley is expecting to see more than 50,000 people passing through the centre’s doors in the wake of a busy festive season.
“On Christmas Eve we were expecting about 70,000 people and on Boxing Day we are expecting about 55,000 people, which equates to around 3,000 cars,” he said.
“It has been very busy - the car parks are running well and there are queues at the cash machines.”
Fears that the rise of the Internet might spell the end of the High Street had proved to be mistaken, but on-line shopping had seen a change in behaviour among shoppers.
“What we are seeing is a lot of ‘click and collect,’ activity,” said Andy.
People are buying stuff on-line, then coming into the centre to collect it, rather than risk relying on deliveries. Then, when they are here to collect their items, we are getting further impulse purchases.Andy Bradley
“People are buying stuff on-line, then coming into the centre to collect it, rather than risk relying on deliveries. Then, when they are here to collect their items, we are getting further impulse purchases.
“We are still seeing a rise in Internet shopping, but it is very incremental now. Most smart retailers have got a good website and a strong shop presence - that seems to be the balance.”
Jewellery has been the big seller this year, but the mild weather has hit sales of jackets and footwear.
Dalton Park has seen a rise in sales this year despite having fewer parking spaces because of the building work under way to extend the site.
“It is generally very positive from our point of view,” said centre manager Jerry Hatch.
“We are a bit compromised with car parking at the moment due to work on phase two, so we would have been quite happy to be on a par with last year, but we are actually four per cent up.
“This year has been very strong.”