SWINDON town centre has bucked the national trend and managed to increase the numbers of shoppers visiting the high street over Christmas.

Despite gloomy sales figures across the UK – the British Retail Consortium called it the worst Christmas in a decade – shopping centres in Swindon remained resilient.

The trade association for retailers said UK retail sales figures fell by 0.7 per cent compared to December 2017, but in Swindon they saw a slight increase during some periods.

Di Powell, CEO of the inSwindon BID Company, said: “December was positive in many ways for the town centre, with over 1.1million visitors during the month representing an increase of 42 per cent against the previous month.

“Our footfall figures tell us that spend came late in the month with the busiest footfall being across ‘Super Weekend’ which came immediately before Christmas Eve, with a total of 89,356 shoppers, an increase of two per cent against the same weekend last year.

“Other highlights over the Christmas period include Boxing Day footfall up 0.9 per cent against the previous year and the Christmas light switch-on, which had its biggest audience in five years with 12,000+ attending the event.”

Jane Stewart, centre manager at The Brunel said: “Most retailers in the UK, including online businesses, have found trading tough this Christmas and spend came later than expected. Shoppers appeared to be holding off for the sales.

“The Brunel Centre bucked UK trends for December by being slightly less down than the UK average.

“Our grotto visitors were up 5.8 per cent on last year and Prospect Hospice, who operated the charity gift wrap stall, saw an 8.5 per cent increase in donations.

“Consumer confidence across the UK is low and that affects spend.

“I would urge people to remember their local town centre when shopping. Spending in your local high street keeps people employed locally and contributes to the local economy.”

But concerns continued over the future Debenhams, which announced last year it could close 50 stores nationwide, and posted a 5.7 per cent drop in sales in the 18 weeks to January 5.