CHRISTMAS has come early for Wearside bargain-hunters.
Shopping centre bosses say consumers have started earlier than usual this year to allow themselves time to track down the best deals.
Andy Bradley, centre director at the Bridges, said: “The centre is busy, footfall is up 3.5 per cent year on year and it looks set to be another good Christmas.
“I do think Christmas shopping is starting earlier this year and there is no doubt consumers are taking more time to shop around for items and researching where to find the best deals so that every single pound works as hard as it possibly can.
“We are striving to cater for these shopping habits by creating the right retail mix within the centre.
“We will continue to work hand in hand with retailers to strengthen the diversity of stores for our shoppers.
“But while shoppers are quick to cut corners on costs, what they don’t want to compromise on is high-quality customer service. This is where our retailers really add value, which keeps shoppers coming back into the centre as our footfall increases demonstrate.”
David McNee is the new man in charge at The Galleries in Washington.
“We are seeing an uplift in the volume of people coming through,” he said.
“We believe our tenants and in particular our retailers, are well-positioned, probably more so than in the last few years, to really take advantage of the opportunities that are out there.
“Customers are more careful in terms of their budget for this Christmas and retailers are really having to think differently about the offers they pass on to their customers.”
Despite the continuing tough economic climate, shopping comparison site Kelkoo has predicted a one per cent rise in spending this Yuletide, with gifts accounting for two-thirds of the total.
The study found Britons will spend more at Christmas than anywhere else in Europe, averaging £682.
Comparatively, the average spend in Sweden is expected to be £563, £548 in Germany, £492 in Italy, £453 in France and £390 in Holland.
Chris Simpson, chief marketing officer at Kelkoo, said: “Although trading conditions are still challenging, it seems consumers are reluctant to cut back on festive season spending.
“Already we have seen retailers introducing early Christmas promotions in anticipation of tough competition, both on the high street and on-line.”
“Securing sales in the run-up to Christmas is key, particularly with January sales starting as early as Christmas Eve.”