Shoppers brave freezing weather to take advantage of sales in Hartlepool

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SHOPPERS queued for more than an hour on a freezing December morning in Hartlepool to take advantage of the sales.

Around 30 people waited from 7am outside the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre on Boxing Day for the retail venue to open at 9am.

Middleton Grange shopping centre boss Mark Rycraft has been nominated in the Community category of the Hartlepool Mail Business Awards.

Middleton Grange shopping centre boss Mark Rycraft has been nominated in the Community category of the Hartlepool Mail Business Awards.

Once they were inside, shoppers found a centre where all but five of the stores were open.

By the end of the day, around 25,000 people had spent Boxing Day in Middleton Grange. Centre manager Mark Rycraft said: “People were queueing really early and well before we were open.”

The reason for the early queues for most people, he said, was to get to a sale at clothing shop River Island.

Once the shopping centre was open, there were “queues extended across all the main mall. People were anticipating getting a bargain at River Island.”

But it wasn’t the only store getting the shoppers, said Mr Rycraft.

The likes of Home Bargains, JD Sports were doing well and Mr Rycraft added: “It was akin to the footfall we get on a normal day of the week which is between 20,000 and 25,000 people.”

He said all-day free parking was one of the attractions on Boxing Day and added: “The car park was busy.”

He praised people for coming out to shop and for keeping their trade on the doorstep. “Although it is difficult to ascertain, it does look like people have made a decision to shop local and we thank them for that.”

Shoppers seemed to be heading to the shopping centre from a radius of within ten miles to Hartlepool in the main.

Mr Rycraft added: “We do see an uplift on Boxing Day and we will get something similar in the coming days. It maintains momentum.”

Clothes seemed to be the main bargains that customers were after, and other stores which were open for business and doing well in the sales were TJ Hughes and BHS, said Mr Rycraft, as well as those offering the growing trend for Click and Collect shopping such as M&S and Argos.

Nationally, consumers have already had the chance to snap up bargains, with many big-name retailers launching their sales as early as Christmas Eve.

An estimated 142 million visits were made to retail websites on Christmas day, which was a 25 per cent increase on last year.