Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 20°C

min temp: 15°C

ESTD 1874 Search

County gears up for busiest weekend

09:00 22 December 2012

The Christmas lights in Ipswich have brought out the shoppers.

The Christmas lights in Ipswich have brought out the shoppers.

Archant

AS shoppers prepare to do battle on the busiest weekend of the year, town centres across Suffolk are preparing for a make-or-break Christmas.

For some retailers the next two days are vital – the pre-Christmas period is responsible for up to 30% of their total profit for the year.

And despite the attractions of internet shopping, in Ipswich there is confidence that this year will be good for high street traders.

The “Shop Local” message also seems to be extending to other parts of the county – in Bury St Edmunds the number of people visiting the Arc shopping centre has increased dramatically compared with last year.

There is some concern nationally this year that because Christmas Day falls on a Tuesday, that Sunday trading laws could hit sales.

Traditionally December 23 is the busiest day of the year for retailers, especially for food shopping.

Despite pleas from some major retailers for a relaxation of Sunday Trading Regulations, stores will only be open for their normal six hours.

That means shoppers are expected to extend their search for sprouts, spuds and parsnips over three days.

However this weekend is vital for all retailers – and Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement is optimistic that the town will see a substantial Christmas boost this year.

He said: “Every day I’m getting more and more optimistic about this Christmas – while my colleagues in other towns seem to be rather nervous.”

The town’s new Christmas lights and controversial “tree” on the Cornhill had helped: “I’ve been doing this in effect since 2000, and the interest we’ve had in the tree and in lights around the town this year is much greater than before,” Mr Clement said.

“People have been making special trips to see the tree and our new lights, and hopefully are then going on to spend money in the town.”

Mr Clement was also keen to point out that the town centre was looking quite healthy – with the number of empty retail units down from this time last year.

“We had 87% of units in Ipswich occupied last year. This year the figure is up very slightly at 88%. It’s only a minor rise but it goes against the national trend.”

Along the A14, traders in Bury St Edmunds are also looking forward with confidence to the busiest weekend of the year.

The manager of the Arc shopping centre, Colin Roberts, said footfall through the centre was going to be at least 20% up on last year – from 205,000 during the Christmas period in 2011 to 250,000 this year.

And nationally high street retailers are preparing for what they hope will be the biggest day of the year amid gloomy sales figures in the last dash to Christmas.

This weekend will be “the big one” as consumers spend up to £5 billion, the British Retail Consortium predicts, with today being the busier of the two days primarily because of longer opening hours.

Visa Europe also expects it to be the year’s busiest shopping day, with customers set to spend £1.26 billion on their Visa cards alone.

The company predicts it will process 31.9 million transactions today, with 2pm to 3pm expected to be the busiest hour.

0 comments

The Very Revd Martin Thrower

A senior Suffolk clergyman has been suspended by the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich after being arrested by police on suspicion of voyeurism.

East Anglian Air Ambulance

A man was airlifted to hospital after a crash in Stowmarket yesterday.

The crash is causing severe delays

Emergency services were called to a crash on the A12 at Eight Ash Green this afternoon to free a man trapped in his car.

Actor and writer Mark Gatiss visited the Riverside Theatre, Woodbridge, in August as part of its Riverside Nights programme

A cinema has revealed plans to install a second screen – 100 years after it opened in a Suffolk town.

12-20 Upper Orwell Street, which could be demolished and regenerated if plans by the East of England Co-op go through

A derelict building in Upper Orwell Street which has been empty for decades could be set for demolition if new plans for the area are approved.

GB Paralympic swimmer, Ryan Crouch, is pictured at Crown Pools in Ipswich.

The Olympics may have finished but the Games are not over yet – next month it is the turn of the Paralympics to take over Brazil.

The EACHFest event held for service users of East Anglia's Children's Hospices and their families

Young people with life-threatening conditions were treated to their very own festival by East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) recently.

Most read

Great Days Out

cover

Click here to view
the Great Days Out
supplement

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24