West End lures one million shoppers
Christmas shoppers shrugged off concerns about the economy to splurge more than £200 million in London's West End on Saturday as streets were closed to traffic and a host of festive entertainment was laid on.
In a bid to shift stock in what is traditionally the busiest time of year for retailers, stores offered discounts of up to 50% and opened their doors early.
Takings were forecast to be up by between eight and 10% on the same day last year, with Oxford Street and Regent Street pedestrianised for the sixth year running.
Accessories such as handbags and luxury goods were flying off the shelves, while children's items also sold well, shops reported.
An estimated one million people descended on the famous shopping streets, including many foreign visitors from mainland Europe and China.
The footfall was similar to this time last year but the average transaction was worth more, coming in at about £200, a spokesman for the New West End Company said.
"There were a lot more people in the stores than on the streets, with the cold weather helping to get people inside," he said.
"The West End in particular, and London in general, are probably more resilient than elsewhere in the country (during tough economic times). There's a wealthy catchment area in London and lots of high-spending foreign visitors. And days like today really boost sales."
Richard Dickinson, chief executive of the New West End Company, said: "London's West End welcomed over one million shoppers today (Saturday) who shrugged off economic concerns, just for one day, and enjoyed the great entertainment at the seasonal shopping spectacular."
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "This event shows London at its best and puts the West End firmly at the top of the table for world-class shopping."