Frenzy at the tills as shoppers hit sales

Shoppers in Douglas

Shoppers in Douglas

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Retailers are breathing a huge sigh of relief as island shoppers hit the sales in style.

Tills have been ringing as families enjoying the festive season have flocked out in droves to snap up bargains.

The message from shopping bosses is that people have been canny and holding off from splashing out for as long as they could.

Tynwald Mills enjoyed its ‘best ever’ shopping day last Saturday, according to managing director Stephen Bradley.

And another crucial factor that appears to be emerging is that Thursday nights have been real thrillers for attracting people into the capital’s late opening shops.

A special ‘footfall counter’ erected recently on the corner of Regent Street near Isle of Man Bank has revealed ‘encouraging’ figures, according to Chris Pycroft, development manager at Douglas Development Partnership.

He revealed that four of the best five days for numbers were on late opening Thursdays. Top was Thursday December 12 when 14,833 people were detected by the footfall device. Second was Saturday, December 21, when the figure was 14,326.

Third was Thursday, December 19, when 13,386 passed by.

Next came Thursday, November 21, with 12,013. This was the night of the switching on the Christmas lights in Douglas. And fifth was Thursday, December 5, when 11,468 people were detected on the busy corner which is something of a shopping hub.

Mr Pycroft said the raw statistics produced by the device were interesting and appeared to show that Thursday night shopping drew in the crowds.

He said the early indications were promising but further analysis would have to be undertaken.

John Shakespeare, Strand Shopping Centre manager, told the Manx Independent that shoppers had been holding off before hitting the sales in style.

He said: ‘People have been leaving it later and later until it becomes frantic.

‘It has definitely been buzzing and Thursday nights and Sundays have been a particular success.’

He said all the centre’s stores and cafe had been enjoying a roaring trade as the the surge in shoppers intensified. But he said that records had not been broken.

Mr Shakespeare said that at HMV tills had been ringing ‘flat out’ as people stocked up on items such as DVD boxsets and music CDs.

He revealed that the best selling items from HMV appeared to be ‘The Class of 92’ DVD about Manchester United players and the latest CD from One Direction.

‘They have been flying off the shelves’ he said.

‘It has definitely been buzzing but the trend has been to come out later and later.’

The centre’s other stores had also been busy and Millets had been enjoying brisk sales of storm jackets and the like, said Mr Shakespeare.

He said people still enjoyed going out to shop and the support of Manx shoppers indicated the importance of shopping locally.

Stephen Bradley, managing director of Tynwald Mills, said last Saturday was ‘our best day ever’ as people came to enjoy the sales.

Mr Bradley, who is also chairman of the retail committee of the Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘Christmas came late this year. But we were full to capacity for our first Saturday of the sales.’

He said there was a great atmosphere as folk bagged discounts of up to 50 per cent on a range of clothing and other items. He said that another bonus was the weekend weather proved ideal for people to get out and about shopping.

‘Before we opened for business queues were forming at the doors. It is turning out to be quite a sale for us.

‘It has been a good festive season for us but it came late.’

Another bonus was the ice skating laid on at the shopping centre.

Mr Bradley praised the island’s food shops for the way they rallied over the festive break. He said that despite the bad weather staff had worked hard to keep shelves stocked.

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