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Town centre traders look forward to a record Christmas in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 06:00 23 December 2016

Sailmakers, shoppers at Christmas

Sailmakers, shoppers at Christmas

Picture:James Fletcher

Retailers and restaurants in Ipswich town centre are looking forward to a bumper Christmas as shoppers have turned out in force.

This year is heading to be one of the best on record – and Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said it was the best he had seen since he was a child.

Ipswich Central co-ordinates events with businesses in the heart of the town, and its chairman Paul Clement was upbeat about the town’s performance.

He said: “Anecdotal feedback from both retail and leisure businesses has been exceptionally positive for the Christmas trading period so far.

“The new mix of restaurants and retailers such as Jack Wills, Wagamama, Cosy Club, and Swarovski has helped change the face of Ipswich.”

The Buttermarket Centre’s new restaurants have done well – and there was also record trading being reported at the Sailmakers centre.

Mr Gummer said: “Everyone I have spoken to has said this is a truly exceptional Christmas in Ipswich this year.

The other day I was in the Butter Market street and it was absolutely heaving.

“Ipswich is, at last, starting to punch at its weight – and it is starting to attract visitors from other towns which is very good news.

Retailers in Ipswich’s busy Sailmakers Shopping Centre are expecting their busiest Christmas in years with approaching 700,000 shoppers set to flock there this month.

Footfall at the Centre, which was the subject of a £4 million refit last year, has risen every month in 2016 and December is expected to follow suit, bringing the total of shoppers for the year to over five and a half million.

Sailmakers Shopping Centre Manager Mike Sorhaindo said: “This year has been a continuing success story for the Centre and fully justifies the decision to invest in the improvements.

“This is a key time for retailers and we’re really enjoying it and having a busy month.

“Last year we were expecting over half a million shoppers in December and we actually had more than 650,000 so we’re hoping for even more this time.”

Local chain Baldwins returned to the shopping centre after 18 months away and the re-opening has been a massive success, according to manager Bradley Ellis.

He said: “We’ve been in Ipswich for six years, here when it was known as Tower Ramparts and elsewhere in the town, and Black Friday was our busiest ever day.”

Partywear has been the big seller for fashion store Quiz where manager Jenny Lloyd said: “It’s been really good and Black Friday worked very well for us.

“November was very busy compared to previous years and it’s certainly picked up with Christmas shoppers out in force.”

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