Big queues on the city sales trail
SHOPPERS have been pouring into Peterborough looking to bag bargains as the new year sales got into full swing.
The sheer number of bargain hunters trying to get into the city centre yesterday meant tailbacks on Bourges Boulevard and Thorpe Road as shoppers tried to park in nearby car parks.
Bosses at the city’s Queensgate Shopping Centre said the venue experienced strong trading on Boxing Day and they expected the trend to continue throughout the rest of the week.
At the Bretton Centre, shoppers slept in sleeping bags overnight as they queued outside the Next store ready for the Boxing Day sales.
But experts have warned that the late flurry of shoppers may not be enough to overcome a tough year for many retailers, which have been hit by the squeeze on people’s incomes and the rise in VAT to 20 per cent.
Lingerie firm La Senza, which has an outlet in Queensgate, has already announced that it plans to enter administration in the coming days.
But Gillian Clarke, manager at Next at Bretton, said: “We are ecstatic with the response to our sale. We were very busy on Boxing Day and yesterday. People were queuing from 2am and at one point we had 2,012 people in the queue before we opened at 6am. It took two-and-ahalf hours to get everyone in.
“Customers have been spending very well and we are really grateful to them for their patience.”
Phil Drinkwater, marketing manager at the Queensgate Centre, said: “Many stores are reporting strong Boxing Day sales, which is absolutely fantastic.
“On Boxing Day we were very busy with people queuing up to get into those stores that had sales.
“As soon as we opened the shopping centre at 10am scores of people came flooding in and that continued throughout the day.
“We would expect the John Lewis clearance to prove very popular so we’re also expecting to stay very busy throughout the entire week.”
The hugely popular Next sale began on Boxing Day and for the first time ever Marks and Spencer was also open on December 26.
Mr Drinkwater added: “We had a busy time in the run-up to Christmas which exceeded our expectations so obviously we’re pleased to see shoppers are continuing to come through the doors.”
Around 150,000 shoppers visited the Queensgate Centre on the last weekend before Christmas and during the week from December 11 about 500,000 passed through the doors, with the figures roughly the same as those recorded last year.
Sam Eastwood, centre director at Queensgate, added: “We’re confident that we will end 2011 on a footfall high, exceeding our 2010 figure and look forward to an exciting and prosperous new year as we welcome retail giant Primark in November.”
A spokesperson for John Lewis said: “We’ve experienced strong sales over the festive period and trade steadily increased in the build-up to Christmas.
Anita Manan, an analyst at retail experts Experian, said: “It’s good to see so many people visiting stores and the milder weather has helped.
“What remains to be seen is if this quarter’s takings are enough to see them through this difficult period to the next quarter.”
The Evening Telegraph previously reported that it was predicted that shoppers in Peterborough will shell out a whopping £672.9 million throughout December. The figures were released by Barclays Bank.
BUSY: The city centre was packed with shoppers yesterday on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
DEMAND: Shoppers queue patiently outside Next in Bretton waiting for their turn to go bargain hunting in the fashion store.