Shoppers boost town’s coffers

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Morecambe’s main shopping centre enjoyed a busy Christmas shopping period as the town bucked the national trend of festive woe for the high street.

Key stores in the Arndale Centre including Tesco, Iceland and Argos, reported increased year-on-year sales and the shopping centre itself had more shoppers through its doors than 12 months ago.

John Watkins, centre manager, said The Visitor’s #SOSMorecambe – Support Our Shops campaign was one of the reasons behind the 
Arndale’s “positive Christmas”.

He said: “More people have visitedthe Arndale this year than last year because we’ve really gone for it.

The Visitor’s SOS campaign, Morecambe becoming a Portas Pilot Town, our own more aggressive marketing and our programme of Christmas entertainment have all been important pieces of the jigsaw.

“Our grotto, DJs and children’s entertainers made it interesting for people to come into the Arndale and kept them there for longer.

“Our anchor stores Iceland,

Argos and Tesco all took more money than they did last year. Poundland and Herbert Brown have done well too. The Works was in the top third of Works stores nationally.

“It was disappointing to lose Superdrug this year but Bodycare and Boots have benefited and picked up that business.”

Some independent shops also reported a better Christmas than in 2011.

“It wasn’t spectacular but all things considered we had a reasonable Christmas,” said John Bates, owner of the Green Room cafe and chair of Morecambe Chamber of Trade.

The Festival Market also reported a “better than anticipated” Christmas shopping period.

Other towns suffered as families cut back on Christmas spending and shopped online for presents.

British Retail Consortium figures showed the usual December increase in retail sales was only 1.5% this year.

And Morrisons, one of Morecambe’s largest supermarkets, saw Christmas sales nationwide fall by 2.5%, its worst result for eight years.

Dalton Philips, chief executive of Morrisons, said the weak trading over Christmas underlined the chain’s need to improve its online offering,

convenience stores and promotional activity. TV duo Ant and Dec have been signed up to head Morrisons’ 2013 advertising campaign.