130,000 shoppers flocked through doors of shopping centre over weekend

Basingstoke Gazette: Shoppers flock to Festival Place to bag last-minute bargains Shoppers flock to Festival Place to bag last-minute bargains

LAST-minute Christmas shoppers have kept the tills ringing in Basingstoke’s Festival Place – with around 130,000 people flocking through the doors over the weekend.

People hunting for bargains made a beeline for the Basingstoke shopping centre in the final days before Christmas Day.

Steven Connolly, centre director at Festival Place, said it had been an exceptionally busy weekend.

He said: “I would estimate that around 80,000 people visited us on Saturday and around 50,000 on the Sunday, because of the shorter opening hours. That’s similar to the amount of people who visited us over the same period last year.

“With Christmas falling on the Wednesday, we’re expecting to be busy right up until the day itself as a lot of shoppers will have taken the Monday and Tuesday off from work.

“It’s very busy but a very exciting time of year for us. Although a lot of people dread Christmas shopping, it’s a nice thing to do – what could be nicer than buying gifts for the people you love?

“The vast majority of customers who were in Festival Place over the weekend had smiles on their faces – there was a real Christmas feeling.”

Mr Connolly said that the shopping centre had addressed problems with parking by getting staff in the car park to direct people to spaces. They also gave people help with carrying shopping to their vehicles.

Mr Connolly said: “It has been a really successful initiative and the feedback from staff has been that customers have been very grateful for the help and particularly enjoyed seeing all the festive outfits that were worn by our staff in the car park.”

The shopping centre is closed on Christmas Day but it will be business as usual for Festival Place staff on Thursday as Boxing Day is also expected to be extremely busy.

Mr Connolly said: “Traditionally, the sales would start on New Year’s Day, but with them now starting on Boxing Day, we are expecting long queues outside shops before they open. People know they will be able to get a bargain, and they’re prepared to wait to get them.”

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