Shoppers busy spending in sales

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A RETAIL boss has said he plans to talk with business and council leaders about how to tackle future congestion in Bury St Edmunds town centre.

As shoppers flocked to the sales this week, traffic into the town centre slowed to a crawl.

The busy sales have been welcome news for retailers, who up until this week have been experiencing a quieter than usual December.

Paul Haynes, manager of the arc and interim chairman of the Bid4Bury group, said the bad weather may have been keeping shoppers away.

“I think what is happening now for many retailers is a catch up. They will probably end up slightly up on last year although it will be nothing to write home about,” he said.

“Certainly the feedback from retailers that I have had, is that they are experiencing great sales but it is a shame that the roads were a bit congested. It is something we need to address.”

He plans to talk to St Edmundsbury Borough Council about ways of alleviating that congestion in future years – one idea would be to extend the temporary park and ride scheme run by the council, into the sales period, while Mr Haynes also said there may be ways of freeing up more short stay parking.

Among the big retailers that are doing well are Clarks and Debenhams.

Clarks manager Adam Whymark said: “It is phenomenal. We have been absolutely run ragged. We have had a record breaking Bank Holiday Monday and Tuesday. It has been a double figure increase. It is surprising how many people have held on until after Christmas and then come in.”

Katy Tamagni, manager of Debenhams, said: “One of the good indicators for me is how our restaurant does and we have had a good increase in footfall through there. To be honest I thought it would be a little bit quieter but it has been good.”