BUSINESSES and stores across Edinburgh have reported a huge boost in trade – as shoppers turned out in their thousands for the busiest Boxing Day sales in recent years.
Shopping centres and city centre stores slashed prices in a bid to extend their December cash-generating window.
And the move seems to have worked, with Essential Edinburgh, which represents 600 traders in the city centre, reporting footfall far busier than previous years.
At Cameron Toll visitor numbers were nearly double the 12,000-14,000 it usually sees on a Saturday, while Debenhams on Princes Street said yesterday was one of the busiest in years.
Overall, some 750,000 Scots are estimated to have spent £215 million in the Boxing Day sales rush.
Today however is expected to be even busier when department store giant John Lewis – which was closed on Boxing Day – launches its sale.
Andy Neal, of Essential Edinburgh, said: “Recently we’ve seen a steady increase in people looking for value for money so I’m sure these sales will be busier than in previous years. In these times of austerity people have probably held back from pre-Christmas purchases so they can extend their spend in the sales. I would expect the shops to be very busy over the next few days as visitors arrive in the run up to Hogmanay.”
Lizzie Singleton, spokeswoman for Debenhams, said yesterday was one of the busiest ever for its Princes Street store.
She said: “It’s been a very busy day from the start. We have our biggest ever half price sale on and doors opened at 7am.
“The most popular items were cosmetics. Perfumes in particular have been selling very well. I believe Elizabeth Arden skincare was one of the most popular.
“Childrenswear was another big area along with our own Designers at Debenhams range, including John Rocha, Jasper Conrad, and Henry Holland.”
Jim Riddell, centre manager of the Cameron Toll shopping centre, said: “Footfall has been really strong. The car park is full and that’s a good sign. Sales in our stores are definitely up.
“We would get perhaps 12,000-14,000 customers on an average Saturday and it was considerably more Boxing Day, perhaps nearly twice as many.
“New Look and Sainsbury’s are always very strong but across the board there’s a lot of good sales on.
“Last weekend was the busiest of the year and definitely the strongest weekend for years. We probably had 20,000 people on Saturday and our extended hours to 8pm give more shoppers chance to take advantage of the sales.”
At The Centre, Livingston, director James Bailey said: “Many retailers have been packed all day with people eager to snap up a bargain and we expect this to continue well into the week.”
Fiona Moriarty, from the Scottish Retail Consortium, welcomed the blitz. She said: “The sales have definitely started with a swing and high streets across Edinburgh and the Lothians have been very busy. It’s a great time to be a shopper. There are lots of fantastic bargains as retailers want to make sure they’re not left with unsold seasonal stock.
“I anticipate Edinburgh to be very busy between now and Hogmanay, as visitors flood into the city for the event.”
• Ashley B wool coat with leather pockets; was £655, now £325 – saving 50 per cent; Harvey Nichols
• Statement shoulder dress; was £259, now £77.70 – saving 70 per cent; John Lewis, St James Centre
• Paul Smith London Zowie casual boots (mens); were £250, now £150 – saving 40 per cent; House of Fraser
• Men’s button neck cashmere jumper; was £170, now £85 – saving 50 per cent; Edinburgh Woollen Mill