Traders celebrate happy end to 2011

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TILLS rather than bells were jingling as Spalding and South Holland traders saw a boost to their December sales compared to last year.

Spalding town centre traders and those at Springfields Outlet Shopping benefited from mild weather and a relatively long Christmas week with Christmas Day falling on a Sunday.

Eager present buyers were out in force in the run-up to the big day – and the first few days of the sales tempted out the bargain hunters.

Springfields retail director Simon Stone said: “Our pre-Christmas footfall in December was 13 per cent up on last year, which is fantastic.

“We launched our clearance sale on Boxing Day and that was 15 per cent up on last year. The day after – the Bank Holiday Tuesday – was the best shopping day of the year so far.

“It’s very, very positive.”

Hills Department Store in Spalding town centre was just as happy with December sales outstripping those of December 2010.

Last year, heavy snow meant many shoppers stayed in Spalding rather than going off to bigger towns.

Hills managing director Darryl Simpson said: “It looks like this year they have chosen to shop in Spalding, which is very good news for us.”

Sales were buoyant across many departments, including fragrance and perfumery, fashions, shoes, accessories and jewellery. And the launch of the big sale on Tuesday saw the shoppers back to snap up the bargains across all departments in the fashion and home stores.

David Carroll, boss of electrical shop Paul Taylor DJC, was one of few retailers reporting a quieter Christmas this year than last. But he is certain things will pick up as the sales progress to a second week.

Cross Brothers in Holbeach had a promising start in the first two days of its sale last week with shoppers buying upholstered furniture, beds and floor coverings.

Joint manager Tim Beresford said: “We have been pleasantly surprised so far.”