Traders braced for record pre-Christmas sales

People shopping in Great Yarmouth on the last Sunday before Christmas Day.Great Yarmouth Market Plac

People shopping in Great Yarmouth on the last Sunday before Christmas Day.Great Yarmouth Market Place.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

Traders were celebrating a busy, but lucrative weekend with some reporting record pre-Christmas sales.

Gentleman's Walk in Norwich is a hive of activity as shoppers hit the streets over the last weekend

Gentleman's Walk in Norwich is a hive of activity as shoppers hit the streets over the last weekend before Christmas. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: Archant Norfolk

High streets were heaving yesterday and today as shoppers sought out Christmas presents for their loved-ones and stocked up on festive food and drink.

Retailers added that they were expecting another busy period of trading tomorrow and Tuesday.

Chris Goulding, manager of Langleys toy shop in the Royal Arcade, in Norwich, said sales were up 10pc compared with last Christmas.

'It is looking like we will have a record weekend. Yesterday was a very, very good day and the whole of December has been good for us. We have had some very busy spells and long queues. Now the cut off for internet delivery has past, we are expecting the shops to be extraordinarily busy,' he said.

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Peter Mitchell, group MD of Jarrold, said the Norwich department store was on course for a record week in the shop's 173 year history.

'We have started to see the areas that we have refurbished over the last 12 to 18 months are doing very well and I am very pleased with the new beauty hall and I'm very pleased with jewellery, watches, mens' wear and the book department. We come into our own as a one stop designation and everything is under one roof,' he said.

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In Cromer, the high street and town centre was busy with shoppers, stocking up on food and last minutes gifts.

Businesses reported plenty of footfall on Saturday and some opened especially on Sunday to accommodate customers.

Daryl Blackburn, who works at Artyfax in Church Street, said: 'It's been very, very busy this weekend and online has been fairly busy as well. People are trying to support local businesses, we've had a lot of people saying they don't want to go into Norwich unless they really have to.'

North Norfolk District Council provided free parking in its car parks on the last two Saturdays before Christmas, to encourage people to shop locally.

But some businesses said despite the offer of free spaces from 2pm - 11pm, they had not noticed an increase in customers.

Phil Weston, who runs Wet Dog surf shop in Tucker Street, said: 'We had a good, busy day but no different to last year from my perspective. It was far busier than previous weekends, but we were expecting that as it's the last Saturday before Christmas.'

Diss was bustling with shoppers looking to grab last-gasp presents and stop off for a pre-Christmas tipple.

The shopping buzz continued a strong Christmas period, according to retailers.

Jane Henry, owner of Jannie Janes Florist in Shelfanger Road, said she had to open yesterday to deal with orders.

'I've have been quite busy and it's been a good Christmas so far. Saturday was really good and there have been a lot of people dropping in. Hopefully that will continue right up to Christmas day,' she said.

Although a planned festive family fun day in Lowestoft town centre on Saturday was postponed due to the weather, there was a brighter outlook from retail leaders as it appeared that people were making last-minute trips to stores across the town.

A spokesman for the Britten Shopping Centre in Lowestoft, which comprises 16 retailers under one roof, said: 'The footfall has been good and there has been a lot of people about. Generally speaking the town has been busy. Obviously it has not been as good as say ten years ago, but all in all it has not been too bad.'

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