Newly-opened fashion stores Fat Face and H&M have helped to make it a busy Christmas for retailers at Church Square Shopping Centre.
The busy St Helens mall is on course to welcome more than 900,000 shoppers in December, with sales expected to top £47 million.
As well as the 50-plus jobs created by the new stores, other retailers have taken on dozens of seasonal staff to cope with the Christmas rush through to the Boxing Day and New Year sales.
Church Square manager Steven Brogan said the new Fat Face outlet – the company’s largest UK store – which opened in October, along with H&M, which began trading at the end of November, have helped to boost trade.
“December is always our busiest time, when we see more people visiting the centre. With the new stores, there’s even more reason for people to visit. The week that H&M opened we saw an extra 14 per cent more shoppers pass through our doors – that has to be good news for all our retailers.
“We have also held activities that appeal to the whole family to bring in shoppers, such as the Elf Yourself event, with youngsters being dressed up as elves, along with our Cheeky Little Elves who have been helping shoppers and offering to wrap presents.
“We are continuing to work hard behind the scenes to ensure that Church Square offers the mix that appeals to High Street retailers and we hope to be welcoming more well-known brands in 2016.”
At B&M bargain superstore discount savvy customers were keeping staff busy, said manager Claire Horton.
“It has started off really well this week and I think that will just keep on building right up until Christmas Eve really,” said Claire.
“Selection boxes and gift sets in particular are always popular and I think people are leaving it later and later every year to get all their shopping so we’ll have a very busy time yet to come.”
With sales starting on Saturday, Boxing Day Claire expects the New Year to bring an even bigger boost to the business in 2016.
She said: “We’re doing things a bit differently and adding more lines to our sales this time and even including furniture. We’re going further than we normally do so I think that will be even busier from the 27th onwards.”
Claire’s thoughts were echoed by store supervisor at H Samuel Vicky Birkett who said that the busy Christmas period they were enjoying was nothing compared to how the Boxing Day sales would be.
She said: “We are busy at the moment and we’ve got some great deals on like up to 50 per cent off watches and we’ve just put an extra 20 per cent off all diamonds, even sets that are already reduced.
“That’s a huge saving on some of the bridal ranges in particular so people are coming in for that. But it’s Boxing Day that is normally the craziest – we don’t know what we’ll have on yet but the sales will be big and we expect it to be busier than ever.
“We have started putting things on sale earlier and I think that’s because shoppers are more clued up and know you’re going to bring the prices down.”
Another Church Square store enjoying a busy time was Rymans where paper, tags, ribbons and bows were doing a roaring trade alongside pens, paper and other stationery gifts.
Manager Karine Preston said: “We’re doing really well at the moment and it’s all looking really positive. Our figures are up on last year and have been for the last three weeks and that is set to continue now right into the New Year.
“We have a lot of offers on at the moment and then from Boxing Day all the Christmas stuff will be half price with all the calendars also marked down.
“The centre itself feels busier that last year and it’s full so it’s all looking good for 2016,” she added.
Church Square Shopping Centre is open daily and home to 60 stores – including H&M, Fat Face, BHS, Boots, Roman Fashions and Superdrug – along with independent retailers plus the busy St Mary’s Market. More details on festive opening times and special offers at www.churchsquaresthelens.co.uk