Last minute Christmas rush gives high street a festive boost

Norwich City centre busy with last minute shoppers. Pic: Archant

Norwich City centre busy with last minute shoppers. Pic: Archant

Retailers have reported sales up on the same time last year with one large store enjoying their best ever run-up to Christmas.

Gentleman's Walk busy with last minute Christmas shoppers. Pic: Archant

Gentleman's Walk busy with last minute Christmas shoppers. Pic: Archant

The high street may have faced a challenging year but it was busy as shoppers headed into stores for last minute purchases. With it being too late to do most internet shopping, people headed into Norwich city centre in their droves.

Department stores like Jarrold and shopping centres like Castle Quarter reported better sales compared to last year. Independent store owners were also pleased with the footfall - although some on the market said trade was not as busy as last year.

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From as early as 9am, car parks at intu Chapelfield and The Forum were already full. Picture: Daniel

From as early as 9am, car parks at intu Chapelfield and The Forum were already full. Picture: Daniel Moxon.

But despite a challenging 2019 for retailers, many were buoyed up by the last minute Christmas rush. In Castle Quarter, people were queuing out of the door at the Moya Bubble tea outlet. Robert Bradley, general manager at Castle Quarter, which re-invented itself this year with new kinds of shops and more leisure facilities including Pure Gym, said exact figures weren't in yet but that sales were approximately 3% up on last Christmas. "We've been really busy in the run-up to Christmas."


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At Jarrold, its trading director John Adams said last weekend was the store's best ever Saturday and Sunday before Christmas. "The deli was 20% up, Jo Malone had its best ever sales; it might be to do with how Christmas has fallen this year but also because of all the work we've done in-store. It's so rewarding when all the hard work pays off."

However, Jarrold is one of the few large stores to remain closed on Boxing Day. "We've always closed on Christmas Day and Boxing day," said Mr Adams. "We know a lot of other retailers are open but we close to give all of our colleagues a break."

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At newly-opened Primark, Haymarket, such were the crowds that the store was using large signs stating where the end of queues were to assist customers - although shoppers were processed through quickly with numerous tills open. And owners of stalls on Norwich Market were also mostly beaming. A spokeswoman from Cary's Flowers said they'd had a quieter November than last year but a much better December. But a spokesman from City Fish said although they had been busy, trade wasn't as good as last year. "The high street isn't competitive, we can't compete with the supermarkets."

City Fish on Norwich Market was busy with all the bags of goods ready for collection but stall holde

City Fish on Norwich Market was busy with all the bags of goods ready for collection but stall holders said trade wasn't as busy as last year. Pic: Archant

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