Boxing Day sales boost for many shops across Wales

Shoppers have provided a boost to stores across Wales in the traditional Boxing Day sales following a tough year on the high street.

One shopping centre in Wrexham said bargain hunters started queuing from 03:00 GMT, while other city centres reported brisk business.

Discounts of up to 75% were available, while some stores opened early.

Healthy sales figures were also reported in the run-up to Christmas despite the financial climate.

St David's shopping centre in Cardiff said more than 200,000 shoppers visited each day last week. However, many smaller independent shops remained closed in the city centre.

Image caption Shoppers started queuing at Eagles Meadow in Wrexham from 03:00 GMT

Retailers were helped by better weather than last year when sales figures were hit by snow and bitter cold in the run up to the festive period.

Steven Madeley, the St David's Centre director, said this year had been a good Christmas for the centre's shops considering the economic situation.

Large queues

"We are fortunate that the weather was kinder to us this year, providing a real boost in footfall in the run-up to Christmas," he said.

"All of our different retail categories have performed well, including names that are new to Wales, which has been a pleasant surprise.

"Although some of our retailers started sales on selected lines before Christmas, Boxing Day is still when the majority of stock is reduced and our bigger stores like Debenhams and M&S begin their much-anticipated sales.

"The trend for our retailers now is to discount heavily straight away and for the sales to finish in a shorter period."

At the Quadrant Shopping Centre in Swansea city centre, all but a handful of stores opened on Boxing Day.

A spokesman said: "It's been very good - very busy. The sales are on and a lot of people are out looking for a bargain."

Elsewhere, the Next fashion store at Eagles Meadow shopping centre in Wrexham saw large queues, with more than 1,000 people through the doors by 07:00 GMT.

Testing time

Store manager Claire Birchall arrived at 05:00 GMT and said she was amazed at the number of people waiting for the sale to begin.

She said that while the queue had been "immense," shoppers showed patience.

"We are allowing 500 people in initially and then it will have to be a system of 10 out, 10 in - that's the only way we ensure customer and staff safety."

Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley said business was "brisk" at other stores in the centre.

At McArthurGlen Bridgend Designer Outlet, centre manager Richard Garratt also said shops had been busy since doors opened at 10:00 GMT.

There has been some cause for optimism for retailers in the UK this month as sales unexpectedly rose in December, according to a Confederation of British Industry survey.

However, the last year has proved a testing time for many retailers on high streets across the country.

UK retail sales figures showed that despite high street discounting, sales fell by 0.4% in November from the month before.

Retailers have suffered as incomes have been squeezed by rising prices, slow wage growth and government austerity measures.

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