SPIRALLING interest rates, the credit crunch, parking worries and roadworks have failed to deter post-Christmas bargain hunters.
Traders welcomed shoppers as early as 5am yesterday, as thousands arrived in the city to buy cut-price goods.
The Chester Mall marketing manager, Julie Williams, said: “Things have been better than expected. I know the last week leading up to Christmas was particularly busy and Costa Coffee has had fantastically busy Saturdays.
“That Christmas rush was a bit later than expected. It’s only the second time we have opened on Boxing Day. Half the shops were open and I believe it was very busy.
“We have a lot of Christmas entertainment, choirs and so on, so the customers have enjoyed that.
“Lots of people will be at work still. The weekend will be very busy.”
Next’s stores on Eastgate Street and the Greyhound Retail Park began their end of season sale at 5am on Thursday and queues for the city centre store stretched as far as the Cathedral.
The manager of Currys digital in Foregate Street said: “The sale’s gone great, better than expected.
“It started off quite slowly for a couple of weeks but the last three or four weeks before Christmas were mad, and it’s continued now.”
Traders across Chester told similar tales of a slow Christmas offset by an early sale rush.
Lawrence Allen, centre manager at The Forum shopping centre, believes traffic works caused problems for retailers before Christmas.
“The ring roadworks went on for too long. It cleared up by Boxing Day but most people do their shopping before then,” he said.
“We have specialist retailers who rely on Christmas trade and don’t need anything that will cause problems for people wanting to come in and spend money.
“It was slow in the couple of weeks before Christmas but busied up toward the end.
“There’s lots of ‘50% off’ and ‘January sale’ signs about and a lot of people walking around with bags which is always a good sign.”