Record-breaking sales as shoppers hunt for bargains

RETAILERS and shopping centres across Britain have reported “record-breaking” levels of trade as St Stephen’s Day bargain hunters kicked off the post-Christmas sales.

Upmarket department store Selfridges said it had enjoyed record first-hour sales levels despite a Tube strike in the capital, while Kent’s Bluewater shopping centre expressed delight at strong demand for luxury and big ticket items.

Other retail centres also experienced strong or best-ever spending levels — with London’s Brent Cross mall taking up to £1,000 (€1,196) a second as shoppers took advantage of discounts of up to 75%.

Many retailers reported bargain hunters arriving from the early hours, including at Birmingham’s Bullring complex, which saw thousands of people queuing for sales at its Selfridges and Next stores.

Although a fatal stabbing forced the closure of some stores on Oxford Street yesterday afternoon, many retailers in London and other parts of Britain said they had made their best ever start to the traditional post-Christmas rush.

Selfridges confirmed it had beaten St Stephen’s Day records set in 2009 — with trade at its stores in London, Manchester and Birmingham up by 15% on the same day two years ago.

Sue West, Selfridges’ director of operations, said: “Despite Tube disruptions and launching our sale on a Sunday, we had record sales in our first hour. Ladies’ accessories and jewellery have been the main attractions with high value diamond pieces driving Selfridges’ Wonder Room sales.”

The Bluewater complex said a number of its retailers had achieved best-ever levels of spend. Bluewater’s retail manager James Waugh said premium-branded handbags and accessories, young fashion ranges and electrical goods had been in greatest demand.

Meanwhile, seven arrests have been made over the stabbing of the man, believed to be in his 20s.

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