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Parkway is said to have attracted more shoppers to the town than in recent years, according to retail operators

CHRISTMAS in Newbury was a roaring success according to the town's retailers, with the new Parkway shopping complex drawing in more shoppers than usual both before and after the holiday.

Shops were as busy as anticipated in the run-up to Christmas, but the Boxing Day sales surpassed expectations, it was claimed by retail operators yesterday (Wednesday).

Parkway, which opened in October, had a successful Christmas said centre manager Neil Carter: “I was pleasantly surprised. The shops were as busy as we expected in the run-up to Christmas, but much busier than we thought it would be after.

“A lot of people are shopping locally rather than going to the sales in Reading or Basingstoke.”

The centre also had a wider impact on the town, according to Mr Carter: “Our own footfall figures for the Christmas period is not available yet, but other retailers have indicated that they have seen an increase in their numbers this year, which probably means Parkway has drawn more people into the town.”

Mr Carter's comments were backed by other town centre shops and the Newbury Retail Association's chairman, Brian Burgess who said: “Firm figures are not available yet, but anecdotally, the town certainly seemed busier than previous years.

“The new shops attracted more people into town, with an amazing impact on the footfall.”

According to Mr Burgess, the town as a whole benefited, with the Kennet Shopping car park the busiest of all. But, he said, new stores, especially in Parkway, were the winners.

Other, wider economic trends may also have had an impact, he said. “One of the things people have to consider if they go far away to shop is the excessive petrol prices, so more and more people are looking locally to shop.”

The manager of Marks and Spencer at Newbury Retail Park in Pinchington Lane, Claire Fulkner said: “It seemed busier than we expected, and the whole of December has been quite busy.”

Angie Somerville of newly opened Cara of London, a ladies' shoe store on Bartholomew Street, said: “It has been very good so far, we are very happy. The footfall that goes past our shop is very high, which helps, because, although some people know where we are, a lot of people don't know of us yet.”

However, shoppers did not appear to withdraw as much from their savings this year according to Newbury Building Society.

The amount withdrawn from accounts at the building society fell by 10 per cent this year according to director Geoff Knappett.

Mr Knappett said that one reason for this may be that more people are spending on their credit cards.

He said: “Online spending, especially, will not normally show up on the accounts until later, when people pay their credit card bills.”

He hinted that there may be underlying reasons for the lower than expected withdrawal from savings, with the prolonged impact of higher inflation and lower wage increases having an impact.

Mr Knappett said: “The saving market as a whole is shrinking and people have less of a nest egg left.”



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