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120,000 to shop on Mad Dash weekend
TENS of thousands of shoppers are expected to swarm the town centre in a final mad dash for the perfect Christmas presents during what promises to be the busiest weekend of the year for retailers.
Staff at High Street shops as well as independent boutiques and the Brunel Shopping Centre are bracing themselves for crowds of last-minute panic buyers frantically searching for gifts for their friends, relatives and co-workers.
The Brunel alone anticipates that more than 120,000 people will brave the rush and make their way to the centre’s many stores.
Steve Fawke, general manager at the Brunel, said: “This is going to be the busiest weekend of the year. Last weekend the town centre was already extremely busy.
“Because Christmas is falling mid-week everybody waited until this weekend to shop. We will see a surge in sales without a doubt.”
Last week nearly 350,000 customers shopped at the Brunel – 119,000 of them on Saturday and Sunday alone.
Although the footfall at the centre is down by two per cent this year, in line with national trends, bosses at the mall believe that more than 400,000 customers will have walked through its doors all week by end of trading on Sunday.
Despite a change in spending habits since the start of the recession, the torrents of shoppers have shown the public is gradually regaining financial confidence, according to Mr Fawke.
“People may not be spending as much as they did five years ago and their spending power is different but their confidence is coming back,” he said.
“There are more people in work now and they are coming out rather than being apprehensive about spending their money.”
Bosses at the Outlet Village were unable to give any indication of trading numbers ahead of their post-Christmas report on January 6, but numbers of shoppers have been traditionally high.
A spokesman for the Outlet Centre said: “We are often very busy during Christmas, and we have a number of events for shoppers, including live reindeer in the centre on Saturdays.
They have proved a good family attraction, and we are expecting our busiest period at the end of this week.”
With more than 50,000 people strolling along The Parade and browsing stores, InSwindon’s Bid manager Rebecca Rowland is reminding customers to avoid peak times, especially lunchtime, to make their shopping spree as smooth as possible. She also advised people to car share or walk to ease traffic flow around the town centre.
“This is what we call the Mad Dash weekend,” she said. “With the added options of the market, which will give people the added opportunity to buy more special presents, we expect to be quite busy.
“The main issue is parking. If people can walk into town or share lifts with anyone we suggest they do it. We would suggest that people don’t come at lunch. There is a football match on this weekend and this will add to the traffic. “
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