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Shops gear up for a big last-minute rush
TRADERS across south Essex are expecting a busy final festive shopping weekend, as customers make a dash for lastminute presents.
With very few shopping days left, traders are hoping lastminute shoppers will be flooding town centres before the big day.
Retailers in Southend and Basildon are expecting packed out stores while councils hope free parking offers will encourage drivers to choose their towns over out-of-town centres.
Neil Raven, of Ravens department store, in Clifftown Road, Southend, said he expected it to be a busy weekend in the town.
He said: “The last weekend before Christmas is always a popular time for shoppers.
“The last week or so has been good, and it’s been pretty busy, so we’re looking forward to the weekend ahead.”
Dennis Baldry, manager of Southend’s Victoria Shopping Centre, said: “It’s been a busy run-up to the festive season, and we are looking forward to an even busier weekend, with shoppers looking for last-minute bargains.”
Dawn Jeakings, manager of the Royals shopping centre, also in Southend, said: “This week is the biggest week of the year for the centre, with around 200,000 people expected to come in this weekend.
“The average is usually half that. All the stores have geared up for it, because it’s a really crucial time of year for retailers.
“People are still spending money, although they have been spending more wisely these past few years, which means the stores offer more deals.”
Basildon town centre management’s Hans Wusterfeld said he anticipated big crowds in the town centre now the final delivery date for online orders had passed.
He said: “This week is important, especially because trade in November has been rather slow.
It took a long time to start the season. Since December, it really has started to pick up and people are spending more, because there are so many bargains around.
“This weekend will be very busy, especially as it’s now too late to order online – people have to go out to buy to guarantee they’ll have the presents in time for Christmas.”
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