Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Big Spenders Give West End Stores a [Pounds Sterling]50m Boost; Retail Therapy: More Than Two Million Shoppers Flooded West End Shopping Streets and the New Westfield Centre in Shepherd's Bush, above, Attracted by Pre-Christmas Sales

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Big Spenders Give West End Stores a [Pounds Sterling]50m Boost; Retail Therapy: More Than Two Million Shoppers Flooded West End Shopping Streets and the New Westfield Centre in Shepherd's Bush, above, Attracted by Pre-Christmas Sales

Article excerpt

Byline: SAMANTHA CAIRNS

LONDON'S major shopping districts today reported a big increase in sales as bargain-hunters defied the economic gloom.

More than two million shoppers are thought to have hit the West End at the weekend, with many attracted by the record number of pre-Christmas sales.

Hordes braved the weather to pack Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street, spending about [pounds sterling]50million in a major boost to retailers.

Their numbers were boosted further by tourists determined to pick up bargains as sterling continued to fall against foreign currencies.

The number of shoppers was up just under 10 per cent on the same weekend last year raising hopes there could be an increase on the 40 million who visited the area in the six weeks before last Christmas.

The figures from the New West End Company, which manages London's main West End shopping streets, comes as a major fillip for its retailers who have suffered two months of disappointing sales. The number of shoppers and individual transactions were up but the amount spent was thought to be around the same because of the discounts.

Jace Tyrrell of the West End company said: "We estimate [pounds sterling]50 million has been spent over the weekend, which is on a par with last year. Given the current economic climate, retailers are very happy.

"The strong euro against the pound also means Europeans are flocking to London to grab a bargain with prices about 25 to 30 per cent down on Paris and Milan." Even in London's most expensive boutiques, sales were strong, with some claiming sales were up 30 per cent on last year.

Colin Busby, manager of Jermyn Street's Hilditch & Key, said: "Obviously everyone's pensive because of the recession, but people are still buying..

We've been doing a lot better this year than the same time last year, with sales up 30 per cent. …

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