Christmas disappointment for shops

SUFFOLK shops are hoping for a Christmas rush this week after shoppers have so far struggled to part with their cash.Although many were brave enough to hit the High Streets in the past two days, trade was lower than last year, with several shops struggling to meet last year's profits.

SUFFOLK shops are hoping for a Christmas rush this week after shoppers have so far struggled to part with their cash.

Although many were brave enough to hit the High Streets in the past two days, trade was lower than last year, with several shops struggling to meet last year's profits.

Shopping centre and trade chiefs in Suffolk blamed the credit crunch and rise in online shopping. Despite predictions the disappointing festive season would be kick-started on Saturday, shoppers were said to be holding on until the last minute to pick up bargains.

Richard Dodd, from the British Retail Consortium, said: “People leave their main Christmas shopping later and later. Retailers will be confident that the peak is yet to come.”

National “footfall” figures released showed the number of shoppers in stores on Friday was down 5.9 per cent on the same day last year.

Andrew Wilcox, the operations manager at the Buttermarket Shopping Centre, in Ipswich, said on Saturday the Ipswich mall wasn't looking as busy as in previous years, but said it wouldn't be till mid-January before the full picture was known.

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“It is probably a little bit quieter than we expected today but we still have another weekend before Christmas when we expect people to be paid early and maybe say 'lets get out there and top up'.

“Some shops we have got in the centre are very, very busy though and there are queues.”

He admitted it was “tough times” for retailers at the moment and said the four Christmas late night shopping openings hadn't yet lived up to expectations either, but Sunday's had overtaken them for takings.

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