Shoppers spend £20m at Xmas event

Andover Advertiser: Shoppers during the American Express Shop West End VIP Day enjoy a traffic-free Oxford and Regent Streets in central London Shoppers during the American Express Shop West End VIP Day enjoy a traffic-free Oxford and Regent Streets in central London

Shoppers spent £20 million in the first three hours of a major Christmas event, organisers have said.

Retailers in central London reported bumper sales at the start of the 10th American Express Shop West End VIP Day. Many of the 600 stores supporting the traffic free initiative anticipated their best takings of the year.

The event was launched by a performance at Oxford Circus by boy band McFly, and celebrities including TV presenter Konnie Huq, entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne and singer Dionne Bromfield also became "tillstars", serving surprised shoppers.

Families made the most of opportunities for shopping and entertainment, and fashion including coats, accessories, toys and gifts all sold well.

Richard Dickinson, chief executive of New West End Company, organisers of the event, said: "It is very promising to see shoppers embracing Christmas shopping, coming out in force today to enjoy the traffic free streets. We will help our businesses make the most of this crucial trading period, and it's encouraging to see the celebrity appearances helped to drive shoppers here early on.

"West End retailers have pulled out all the stops to create a fantastic environment for shoppers to enjoy. We've seen a rise in sales of 6.8% for October, and we are ready for this to continue in the run up to Christmas."

Giant presents lined Oxford and Regent Street, with 100 "gift gurus" on hand to offer advice on shopping dilemmas, and to highlight the variety of gifts and fashion available.

American Express is donating £1 per transaction over the weekend to partner charity Make-A-Wish, up to a maximum of £50,000.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "VIP Day has become an essential part of London's shopping calendar, and what better place to host it than the world's best retail district. This weekend showcases the best of shopping London has to offer, and builds on the momentum of the magnificent year London has had."

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