Colchester retailers hope this weekend will see bumper trade

RETAILERS in Colchester town centre are gearing up for a surge of shoppers in the final weekend before Christmas.

Michelle Reynolds, chairman of the Colchester Retail/Business Association, said it had definitely felt like the town centre had been busier this month.

She said: “There are certainly a lot more people about – but whether they are buying anything we will have to see.

“We like people to shop locally and support their town centre shops.

“I would suspect this weekend will be the big spend, especially as many people will have been waiting to see what sales and discounts there will be.

“Years ago we had Christmas, then the January sales, but things seem to have changed somewhat in the bigger stores, which look to discount earlier now.

“However, some independents are not able to compete on the same basis.”

Latest trading and footfall figures are not yet available, but Matthew Swan, chairman of the Colchester Chamber of Commerce, added: “There is definitely a sense of more confidence this year, which has crept in throughout 2013, and with people being more optimistic going into 2014 than they were this time last year.

“We are probably fortunate to be living in a prosperous area as it means people are more willing to spend.

“Of course, we can’t ignore the fact there are still issues out there, such as with the news about jobs threatened at Polestar and Capita Insurance this week.”

Despite this being the last weekend before Christmas, with Christmas Day falling midweek, it means internet shopping has not yet come to an end, with people still snapping up last-minute buys from the comfort of their homes.

Ms Reynolds said: “Online personalised products generally closed last weekend for most people, but shoppers could still order online this weekend for delivery early next week.

“But it is whether people want to take the risk of it not arriving or not being in stock.

“We would much prefer people to come in and see their friendly store-keepers who can make expert suggestions and put forward alternatives if something is out of stock.

“People who sell perfumes are a great example of knowing what they are selling and can tell shoppers which have been the season’s best-sellers.

“You can’t do that on a keyboard."

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