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Boxing Day sales: Footfall in London's West End up 15% on last year as bargain hunters descend on shops

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 26/12/2018 Katy Clifton
a group of people standing in front of a crowd © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

Shoppers descending on central London for Boxing Day bargains have led to a 15% increase in footfall in parts of the capital since last year.

Footfall in the West End was up 15% on last year by 10.30am as stores swapped their festive windows for huge signs promising hefty discounts.

Shoppers queued outside stores around the country before first light, and people were pictured inside with armfuls of half price clothes.

Jace Tyrrell, chief executive at New West End Company, representing businesses in Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street, said shops are experiencing a £50 million spend today.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Boxing Day shoppers (PA Wire/PA Images) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Boxing Day shoppers (PA Wire/PA Images)

She said: "In London's West End we have seen a Boxing Day bounce, with footfall up 15% this morning.

"International tourists are out in force driven by the weaker pound, as well as domestic shoppers who are looking for a day out after family celebrations yesterday.

"We're on track for a £50 million spend today, which will rise to a total figure of £2.5 billion for the critical Christmas trading period.

"It has been a competitive and challenging year for UK retail with rising costs and squeezed profit margins. As the largest private sector employer in the country, we need the Government to get beyond Brexit and support Britain's retail sector in 2019."

Boxing Day still remains a key shopping day - twice as much money was spent on Boxing Day than Black Friday last year - while the period between Christmas Day and New Year generated £12 billion in sales, according to ShopperTrak.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera: Shoppers outside Harrods in London (PA Wire/PA Images) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Shoppers outside Harrods in London (PA Wire/PA Images)

High street retailers had already cut prices after trading on the busiest shopping day of the year, dubbed "Super Saturday", failed to lure shoppers to stores.

It has been a torrid year for retailers with notable high street names such as Poundworld and Maplin falling into administration, Marks & Spencer and Debenhams announcing plans to shutter stores, while Superdry, Carpetright and Card Factory issued profit warnings.

High street retailers have been battling higher costs, low consumer confidence as shoppers rein in spending amid Brexit uncertainty and people increasingly shop online rather than visit bricks-and-mortar stores.

a group of people posing for the camera: Selfridges open its doors on Boxing Day (PA Wire/PA Images) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Selfridges open its doors on Boxing Day (PA Wire/PA Images)

Don Williams, retail partner at KPMG in the UK, said: "Since Black Friday hit UK shores back in 2013, the festive sales period hasn't quite been the same.

"Indeed, previous KPMG analysis did highlight that the discount bonanza in November cannibalised the traditional Christmas shopping period, bringing sales forward and twisting retailers' arms to discount for longer.

"With this year's Black Friday being a bit of a damp squib, many could be forgiven for hoping that would have benefited post-Christmas sales, including Boxing Day.

"But, for the vast majority, that is unlikely. Most will still have their work cut out to persuade shoppers who have notably been clawing back their spend.

"But for those retailers stocking must-have brands, there is still plenty to play for in the final festive push."

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