The only way is up for Freshney Place as footfall figures grow
GRIMSBY'S Freshney Place is continuing to buck the national trend when it comes to attracting shoppers, with the first half of the year's success continuing through late summer.
Third quarter figures for footfall in the town's mall were 3.4 per cent up on 2011, against a backdrop of a national picture where centres are 3.4 per cent down.
The success in July, August and September is predicted to continue, too, with many retailers giving both statistic-based and anecdotal evidence that Christmas shopping is starting earlier.
Festive lights within the centre itself were switched on for the first time on Monday, but many have had December 25 in mind far earlier.
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Centre director Amanda Austin, pictured right, is delighted with the way 2012 is panning out, boosted by new retailers arriving ready for the peak season and major overhauls of existing outlets making a big impression.
Granite Outdoor was the latest store to open this weekend, catering for those who embrace the great outdoors, with Barratt Shoes having also beaten a path back to the centre, taking a unit in Baxtergate.
Rock Candy, offering beauty services, has taken the former Tie Rack unit, with phone accessory outlet Mobile Booth signing up for Clayton Walk last week, and due to open soon.
Mrs Austin said: "We have worked tirelessly throughout the year to drive trade and keep customers returning to Freshney Place.
"To build on the first half of the year is very pleasing, and on top of that, it seems like Christmas has started much earlier for our shoppers. People may well be pacing it out a little bit more in the current climate, but I may be wrong, and we may continue to have such good investments.
"The retailers are more optimistic than I thought they were going to be, so we're feeling very good about it."
As reported, the Grimsby Telegraph, North East Lincolnshire Council and Freshney Place have united with the support of Lincs FM, Compass FM, The Culture House and Grimsby In Bloom on a Go To Town This Christmas campaign.
The centre will not have a Santa's Grotto this year either, with a free Father Christmas to take wish lists to, replacing what had become a costly family "treat".
"We are really trying to capture the essence of what it is all about, children being able to see Father Christmas, give him their wish list, and to capture that moment. We have taken the over-commercialisation element away, it is not a priority in the present climate when these things all add up, and this will be great. We are expecting a lot of customers to come and visit.
"Our lights are on now, but I'm really looking forward to the town centre event on November 22. We have had great feedback on the decorations. People are really loving what we have done."
Freshney Place will offer free car parking after 5pm for the spectacular, featuring reindeer, Father Christmas parade and a giant food market. It marks the start of late-night shopping until 9pm.