Big queues on the city sales trail

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Front Page - By KEN MCERLAIN ken.mcerlain@pe­ter­bor­oughto­day.co.uk

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.

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