Fringe Box



Early Sales Galore to Attract Christmas Shoppers

Published on: 21 Dec, 2018
Updated on: 26 Dec, 2018

Up to 70% sale reductions in Guildford High Street.

By Hugh Coakley

Shoppers are being treated to early pre-Christmas sales in Guildford High Street as the large shops and chains moved to attract shoppers.

The sales which started earlier in December have one shop, Phase Eight, showing as much as “70% off”.

House of Fraser, owned by Sports Direct Mike Ashley, has a 60% sale. Click on the images to enlarge them.

Footfall in the High Street appeared to be low on Thursday but very busy today (Friday, December 21 2018) on the lead up to Christmas.

In October to November, Guildford bucked the national trend with a 13% increase in footfall against a national 3.2% decrease (figures produced by the British Retail Consortium).

The BBC has reported a mixed picture nationally with smaller shops having an early Christmas bonus, a 13% increase over last November, but chains appearing to be suffering from a combination of factors.

French Connection has a 50% sale. Mike Ashley has a 27% stake in the company and was reported to be a possible buyer.

National retail sales had increased by 5% compared to last year. But with online purchases now accounting for 20% of all retail sales, heavy discounting and increasing costs, including rents, business rates and wages, high street traders continue to face a challenging future.

Shoppers in the High Street were happy with the price reductions from the sales.

Will Evans from Godalming said, “I quite enjoy the sales but it does show that shops are suffering.”

Gap has a 60% sale.

Angela Stentiford from Guildford said “Sales make no difference to me at the moment because I’ve finished all of my shopping. It seems to be mainly clothes shops that are reducing prices but it is nice to get a bargain.”

Amanda Masters, CEO of Experience Guildford which represents and promotes shops in the town, told the Surrey Advertiser: “We’re delighted to announce that Guildford is yet again an exception to the rule. Figures such as these further establish the appeal of Guildford as a key retail and leisure destination.”

A report, commissioned by the government and published on Thursday, December 20, has called for a re-imagining of town centres. The High Street Report, by a panel chaired by Sir John Timpson, the shoe repair shop magnate, stated: ” We have more shops than we need and are short of housing in many parts of the country. It seems to be obvious to us that part of the retail estate should be converted into residential property where there is housing shortage.”

The draft Guildford Borough Plan currently predicts an increase of 41,000 square metres of retail space by 2034. This is based on “planning applications, appeals and building completions data”.

Guildford High Street 12.15pm, December 20 – not as busy as one might expect just four days before Christmas – but it became busier today (December 21).

Cllr David Bilbe

Cllr David Bilbe (Con, Normandy), a member of the GBC Executive and lead councillor for enterprise and economic development, said: “Guildford is faring very well compared to national figures. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) figures show footfall declined nationally by 2.3% from October to November yet in Guildford it increased by 13%.

“What we are doing in Guildford is balancing the needs of people and retail requirements while also keeping in mind the Local Plan objectives that provide the flexibility to respond to changing retails needs”

Cllr Tony Rooth

Cllr Tony Rooth (Ind, Pilgrims) said: “Guildford has an attractive High Street and it’s good to hear that our town has bucked the trend and increased footfall in shops. However, will more people coming through the doors result in retailers taking enough money at the tills? Retail chains are offering more “sales” with big discounts before, rather than after Christmas to pay high rents and business rates, let alone their staff.”

He added, “Unfortunately, the number of empty shops in our town centre has almost doubled since I started my own surveys in January this year. It is good to see some new shops opening but the future of retail, even in Guildford, is a serious challenge.”

Moss Bros 50% sale

Laura Ashley 50% sale

Jack Wills 40% sale

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