Traders buoyed by encouraging pre-Xmas sales

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SHOPS and businesses have seen an upsurge in trade in the run-up to Christmas.

The town centre has been much busier in the last fortnight, compared to last year when snow and icy conditions kept many shoppers away.

John Hough, manager of Priory Meadow Shopping Centre, said there had been a seven per cent increase in the number of shoppers in the centre last week, compared to 2010.

He said: “In the last two weeks footfall and trade has been well up on last year. In fact footfall has been climbing up since the second week in November.

“This year has been very difficult but as we come into the busy Christmas period, the last week in particular has been much improved than in the same time in 2010.

“Our Christmas campaign is in full swing and trade is quite buoyant at the moment.”

Mr Hough added that many people had spent money on more expensive items.

Elsewhere in the town centre, it has been just as busy, according to Rob Woods, town centre manager.

He said there had been a 15 per cent rise in the number of Christmas shoppers from the week beginning last Monday (December 5), compared to the previous week.

Mr Woods said: “It is going pretty well but was slow in the early part of the month. Everywhere was slow then and tends to be when internet sales go mad. However there is clear evidence that people are coming out in their numbers. Last weekend was the busiest reported to me this year, and there have been high levels of sales in most of the shops I have spoken to.

“We certainly are experiencing a growth in internet sales but so many people were put off it last year through not getting deliveries on time.”

Shopkeepers in the Old Town reported a mixed bag.

Claire Doolan, treasurer of Old Town Traders, who runs Equilibrium in George Street, said: “People are doing exactly what they did last year, and that is coming out quite late to buy Christmas presents.

“I have been very busy in the last few days and I would say it has been busier in the Old Town in the run up to Christmas this year but overall 2011 has been a quieter year.”

The news has not been good for St Leonards, according to Carol Redmond, chairman of Central St Leonards Business Association.

She said: “I think it is down to the economic climate. It has been a lot quieter here, in my opinion, especially in Kings Road.”