Huge rise in tax-free spend­ing by in­ter­na­tional shop­pers Strong fin­ish to year for town’s shop­ping cen­tres

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Happy Ending After Puppies Stolen - By Tim Collins

tcollins@thek­m­group.co.uk Big-name re­tail­ers fin­ished last year on a high, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures re­leased by the town’s two largest shop­ping cen­tres.

County Square in Ash­ford High Street and the Ash­ford De­signer Out­let in Kim­ber­ley Way have both re­ported strong foot­fall over Christ­mas and into the new year.

De­spite a tough year, with over­all visi­tors slightly down year-onyear at County Square, vis­i­tor num­bers over the fes­tive pe­riod were up.

A County Square spokesman said: “We had 5,001,543 peo­ple through our doors in 2013 which was slightly down, by 2.3%, on 2012, but we were very pleased with th­ese fig­ures.

“The last week of De­cem­ber was up by 6% on 2012, with 111,500 peo­ple vis­it­ing County Square. On Box­ing Day we opened our doors at 5am to al­low for the crowds to come in and wait for the Next sale, which was start­ing at 6am.”

The De­signer Out­let has re­ported a record-break­ing start to 2014.

Sales rose 18% in the week De­cem­ber 26 to Jan­uary 2, com­pared with the same pe­riod the pre­vi­ous year, with more than 70,000 shop­pers dur­ing that week.

An over­all in­crease in like-for­like sales of 14% was re­ported from Oc­to­ber to De­cem­ber 2013, com­pared with that pe­riod in 2012.

And foot­fall at the cen­tre was up 6% dur­ing the same pe­riod, com­pared with the pre­vi­ous year.

Cen­tre man­ager David Mad­di­son said: “Our strong Christ­mas trad­ing re­sults yet again high­light that a visit to McArthurGlen’s Ash­ford De­signer Out­let con­tin­ues to be an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar way to shop.

“Year-round sav­ings of up to 60% in a pre­mium shop­ping en­vi­ron­ment makes the cen­tre ir­re­sistible to those liv­ing in the Kent area or cross­ing the Chan­nel from Europe.”

The tra­di­tional “man dash” in the run-up to Christ­mas helped drive par­tic­u­larly strong sales in per­fume and cos­met­ics, which were up by 27%.

In­ter­na­tional shop­pers also con­trib­uted to strong Christ­mas trad­ing, with tax-free spend­ing up 35% year on year.

County Square bosses were pleased with the cen­tre’s per­for­mance over Christ­mas

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