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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Cumbrian stores braced for mad weekend Christmas rush

Retailers expect a bumper weekend of sales as shoppers make last-minute trips for Christmas bargains.

Thousands of festive shoppers are predicted to hit the stores on the last weekend before the Christmas break.

Bosses at Dunmail Park Shopping Centre in Workington sum up their expectations for the coming weekend as “madness”.

It comes after crowds flocked to town centres and shopping centres at the weekend in what traditionally has been an even busier trading period.

Gordon Osbald-Estin from Dunmail Park said: “We launched Christmas here on November 29 and we have gone from strength to strength. It is going to be madness this weekend – everywhere, including the town centre in Workington, has been really busy all week.”

David Jackson, commercial director at The Lanes in Carlisle, said: “In the last couple of years the weekend before the last weekend before Christmas has been busiest.

“A lot of it is down to which day Christmas Day falls on.

“We were extremely busy at the weekend just gone, although our footfall was 15 per cent down compared to last year, but there is still a lot more shopping to be done and it is all to play for.

“We were helped by the lousy weather so a lot of people piled in just to keep out of the rain.”

While the poor conditions boosted indoor shopping centres, it hampered trade at Gretna Gateway, which is not under cover.

General manager Peter Gardner said: “We were just okay rather than good, but we’re an open air centre versus indoor centres.

“Weather like that is usually going to affect us more than anything els. But we are still on course for our second consecutive best year ever.

“A lot of tenants reported their best-ever week the week before last. And if we are lucky with the weather this weekend it should be cracking.”

Meanwhile, shoppers who have left their Christmas presents to the last minute could be in line for some festive bargains, Mr Jackson revealed.

“I think there will be lots of offers coming up just before Christmas,” he said. “The weather has been so mild that retailers will have a lot of winter clothing which could be marked down quite heavily.”

Preparations for a hectic weekend at The Lanes are well underway. In recent years many shoppers have left their festive buying to as late as possible so they can cash in on any heavy discounts.

Mr Jackson said: “A lot of retailers have been doing night shifts, replenishing their shelves, and taking deliveries so they can be devoted to serving their customers during the day.”

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