Shoppers battle for the bargains

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The Independent Online
RETAILERS DISAPPOINTED with pre-Christmas spending were offered a spontaneous display of enthusiasm yesterday, as fighting broke out at one of the country's busiest shopping centres.

"The fights were nothing we could not handle. We have an extra 1,500 staff to cope with the rush," said John Bremner, director of Brent Cross in London, where some shoppers battled to take advantage of discounts of up to 50 per cent. Brent Cross was one of several shopping centres which confirmed Monday as its busiest day of the year.

At the Lakeside shopping centre in Essex - with 320 outlets, one of the UK's biggest retail complexes - Monday's sales were up by 14 per cent compared to the same day last year. "We counted 165,000 cars. It's looking extremely good today, as well," said Heather Hudson, the centre's marketing manager.

Richard Belt, the general manager, added: "It has been absolutely fabulous and undoubtedly a record number of shoppers for Lakeside."

This year's upturn in sales in the second half of December is repeating last year's pattern, the shopping centres say. The Meadowhall centre in Sheffield was also busy. A spokeswoman said: "The sales have been fantastic. By the end of the day [on Monday] there had been well over 120,000 people."

A spokesman for John Lewis in London said: "It's our first day of the sales and the stores are already full. We have made a very steady start, with interest spread across all departments. There has been particularly high interest in furnishing and clothing."

PCs are also among the best-selling goods, according to retailers, who attribute their increased popularity to price reductions and wider availability.

Dixons said its PC helpline had received more than 10,000 calls on Christmas Day.