The festive season saw tills in Lancaster ringing out as shoppers snapped up bargains around the city.
But while the pre-Christmas period saw booming sales figures at most Lancaster stores, many saw trade tail off after December 25, despite the New Year sales.
St Nicholas Arcades centre manager Jerry North said there was a marked difference in pre and post-Christmas shopping.
Around 160,000 shoppers were recorded in the arcades in the week leading up to Christmas, 30,000 more than the previous week and a 15 per cent increase on the same week last year.
“Pre-Christmas was fantastic,” Mr North said. “It was possibly one of the best Christmases I have seen in Lancaster.
“In particular, the new toy shop [The Entertainer] had sales far exceeding their targets for Christmas, and similar was being reported for most of our retailers.
“They all noticed a big improvement on last year.
“Post-Christmas has been a bit of a let-down in comparison.
“I honestly think our shoppers want to go further afield to find their sales bargains because our retail offering just isn’t strong enough and people feel they are missing out on all the high street names.”
The story was similar among shoppers taking advantage of the bargains to be found.
Matt Bagot, originally from Lancaster but now living in Andover, Hampshire, was visiting the city for a few days with his partner Sam and 15-month-old daughter Amelia.
“It doesn’t seem that busy to me,” he said. “I have seen it much busier in Lancaster on a normal Saturday.
“We did a bit of online shopping this year; I think a lot of people are buying online or from supermarkets, because it’s much easier and they cater for everything. Town is much quieter because of that.”
Phil and Kat White, from Lancaster, were shopping for their daughter’s birthday at the end of December.
“We spent a fortune on the children’s presents before Christmas,” Kat said.
“I think the sales seem to be pretty much the same as any year; I have got a bit fed up with them to be honest.
“I did quite a bit of online shopping this year; I do it quite a lot the rest of the year too because it’s so much easier.”
Georgia Butterfield, out with her one-year-old son Ivor, said: “It seems fairly quiet to me. There doesn’t seem to be that many big sales on.”
And Tracy Bell, from Bolton-le-Sands, said: “It’s quiet compared with places like the Trafford Centre; we went there on Boxing Day and it was crazy.
“It’s a shame for Lancaster that there’s no shops to pull people in.
“People are travelling now because they know they are going to have more choice elsewhere.”
Tracy Penny, from Morecambe, who was shopping with her son David, said: “The sales have been fairly quiet. There’s not been that much of a queue and we have been served quickly everywhere.
“There’s not much in the sales really, not as much as last year; some of the shops just have a few racks of things.”
Mrs Penny said she preferred to shop locally wherever possible.
“I like shopping locally much more than going somewhere like the Trafford Centre if I can, because it’s nice to be able to get things right on your doorstep,” she said.
“Having said that, I did quite a lot of internet shopping this year, and got a lot of good deals.
“There were definitely some bargains to be had online, but you still have to look around locally to see if they can match the prices.
“I think people have definitely been tightening their belts this year.”
However, Heather Vazquez-Rivera, from Bowerham, said: “We didn’t spend that much before Christmas really, but we have spent a lot in the sales.
“We did some online shopping, but we actually spent more in the shops in the end.”
“I think some are being a bit cautious with their spending, but there’s still plenty of money out there,” her husband Lee added.
“I think the 50 plus market in particular has money to spend.”