FESTIVE shoppers have given retailers in Bolton a booming start to the new year.

Visitors to the town centre and the neighbouring retail parks have boosted trade during the run-up to December 25 and the post-Christmas sales.

Tills were ringing at Middlebrook where the busiest day was December 23 and Christmas Eve takings beat last year’s equivalent by 21.72 per cent.

“Boxing Day was 21.99 per cent up on the previous year and the total Christmas week was 35.75 per cent up on 2012,” said manager Heather Ingram.

It was a similar story at the Market Place and Crompton Place in the town centre.

Market Place Manager Rod Neasham said: “We have had a great Christmas with lots of festive activity which attracted visitors to the shopping centre, including the ever-popular Breakfast and Tea with Santa, which was sold out.

“Children also enjoyed the new addition this year of the train ride around the Christmas tree and the Snow Globe.

“The well-established gift-wrapping service provided by local charity Fortalice was extremely busy over the final two weeks of Christmas with more than 10,000 presents wrapped in total.

“Our car park has been very popular since we began our free parking for the first hour-and-a-half, which we will continue to run for the foreseeable future.

“Footfall to the centre has continued to improve into January and is currently ahead of last year and, with our key retailers offering discounts well into January and some exciting new retailers on the horizon, we are looking forward to a very healthy 2014 here.”

Malcolm Angus, Crompton Place Manager, said the latest footfall figures showed that about 130,000 people visited the busy Bolton shopping hub during Christmas week — a 3.5 per cent increase when compared with the same week in 2012.

“Crompton Place has enjoyed a busy festive and sales period which is a great way to welcome in 2014,” he said.

“The sales period started with a bang on Boxing Day with queues of people waiting outside High Street favourites such as Primark and New Look so they were first in line to bag the best bargains.

“There has been some positive feedback from our retailers who tell us they have met and exceeded sales targets for the period and overall we are very pleased with how things have gone and are feeling very positive about the year to come.”

Also hitting and exceeding their sales targets throughout the festive period and in December as a whole were the team at Scotts menswear in Crompton Place.

Romey Booth, assistant manager, said: “We have done well throughout the Christmas period. We met and exceeded our targets for every week in December and we are still up now when you compare with last year.

“At the moment, winter jackets — especially the Parka jackets — have been selling well and one of the other popular items has been branded tracksuits.”

For Lisa Keogh, manager of The Fragrance Shop, the rush came predictably just before Christmas and business has continued to be brisk through the sales period.

She said: “Our big seller was definitely Paco Rabanne 1 Million for ladies and for men.

“We sold out of the gift sets for both and the actual fragrance itself for the ladies before Christmas.

“I think people like it because it is a long lasting fragrance, ” she added.

Clare Kenny, assistant manager at Thomas Cook in Crompton Place, said December had been a very strong month for the travel agent with the team smashing their sales targets by 11 per cent.

“Christmas and the new year have exceeded our expectations and there is no sign of this changing as we enter one of our busiest periods as people look to book their summer breaks to have something to look forward to,” she said.

“One of our biggest sellers at the moment is a very good deal for a seven-night stay in Las Vegas at one of the hotels on the strip with direct flights. It is flying off the shelf. We are booking at least one of those a day.

“Florida, for family holidays, is also very popular and I think this is because the dollar is so strong at the moment so people are really seeing value for money by going further afield than Europe.”