Belfast Telegraph

Shopping centre tenant has a 'record' weekend

By Margaret Canning

The anchor tenant of a major Belfast shopping centre experienced its "busiest weekend on record" just before Christmas, it has been claimed.

Victoria Square said House of Fraser reached record sales between Saturday December 22 and Monday December 24.

The store's boost appears to confound fears that protests against the city council's vote to restrict the flying of the Union flag would ruin Christmas trade.

Victoria Square also said the majority of its retailers reported "sales increases of between 20% to 30%" on last year.

No-one from Belfast's other major shopping centre CastleCourt was available for comment on the Christmas period.

Next will tomorrow become the first major retailer to reveal Christmas trading figures.

Staff at major Belfast shops yesterday refused to give any details of how they performed - although Angela McGrath, the manager of Belfast's branch of bookseller Waterstones, said they "had met their sales expectations".

Martin Walsh, the centre manager of Rushmere Shopping Centre in Craigavon, said figures for the full week starting December 17 were its "best on record". Overall December footfall was up 4% on a year earlier, he said.

"Many retailers are also reporting robust sales in the run-up to Christmas, including Dunnes Stores, which has just recorded its best week ever," Mr Walsh said.

Peter Murray of Buttercrane Shopping Centre in Newry said Christmas had started "very late" with shoppers not piling in until the second half of the month after they had been paid - instead of using credit cards as they would have in the past.

The nearby Quays Shopping Centre announced it had experienced a "busy" festive season.

Manager Cathal Austin said: "While we know that 2013 is going to be another difficult trading year for retailers we hope that the Christmas boost is the start of a return of consumer confidence."