Published: 10:15, 24 December 2008
Shoppers shed their worries about the credit crunch on Monday to give Bluewater its busiest day for five years.
Bosses said more than 180,000 people visited the centre, a figure that has not been bettered since 2003.
A further 270,000 people visited Bluewater over the weekend, a 10 per cent increase over the same period a year ago.
Bluewater’s general manager Andrew Parkinson was delighted with the centre’s performance in difficult times.
"Despite the current economic climate, Bluewater yesterday enjoyed its busiest day for five years," he said.
"It is a testament to the guests’ desire to enjoy themselves this Christmas and Bluewater’s appeal as the ideal location for shopping and a great day out."
John Lewis Bluewater also did well amid the doom and gloom surrounding other retailers this Christmas which has seen Woolworths about to fade into history, and Whittard, the tea and coffee retailer, and menswear retailer The Officers Club, both going into administration.
Managing director Simon Russell said the store had been very busy for the past few days.
"Monday was a really crazy day for us," he said.
"The last time Christmas fell on a Thursday, the Monday was our busiest day and that was repeated this year.
It was our busiest trading day outside our sale period for a couple of years.
"All of our tills were busy from 10 in the morning to 10 at night. It was extremely busy." He added that several departments had really good days, with the beauty department beating previous sales records by 40 per cent."
Prices had not been slashed to attract shoppers, he said, with staff in the beauty department reporting that customers were not that interested in the price.
"That’s the first time we’ve seen that over recent weeks where people have been more price savvy than they have been in previous years."
He added: "When it comes to buying a gift, people are still willing to spend. "
He said the late spending surge would not be enough to make up for lower sales earlier in the year, but the difference would not be that much. "It will be down, but in single figures."
"I reckon the sales period will be extremely busy and then I think it’s probably going to be tough in spring and summer but I reckon coming into the second half of next year, things will start to look a little better."
He said the store would be opening at 8am on Saturday for the start of its clearance sale, and shoppers could expect to see discounts of 50 per cent on many items.
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