LONDON — Britain’s post-Christmas sales period has begun with a bang, as Selfridges achieved the most profitable hour in its history, and Harrods expects to see more than one million shoppers in the four weeks after Boxing Day.
On Boxing Day, the day after Christmas when British retailers traditionally slash their prices, John Lewis said it saw a 17.7 percent increase in orders compared with last year.
“Customers were quick to find great deals this year with the Apple Watch, KitchenAid stand mixer and Molton Brown gift sets some of our most popular purchases,” said Mark Felix, director of online trade at John Lewis.
Selfridges said it recorded the “most profitable hour” in its 100-year history, taking in 2 million pounds, or $3 million, between 9 a.m. — when the doors opened to screaming shoppers — and 10 a.m.
Harrods, which expects to see more than one million shoppers during the four-week sale period, set its Boxing Day sale to music this year, hosting a performance by cast members of West End musical “The Elf.”
The fact that Boxing Day fell on a Saturday rather than a public holiday also encouraged a number of Bond Street stores to open for the first time and take part in the sale.
More than 100 million pounds, or $149 million, is set to be spent across London’s West End, which includes Regent, Oxford and Bond Streets, over the long Boxing Day weekend, which runs through Monday, Dec. 28, a bank holiday in Britain.
According to New West End Company, an industry group that represents retailers in the area, shoppers from China, the Middle East and the U.S. will play a key role as they often fly into London during the weekend to take advantage of the sales and of tax-free shopping.
“We expect international shoppers from China, the Middle East and South East Asia, to be among those leading the spending on the day as travelers from these countries have accounted for nearly 40 percent of tax-free spending over 2015,” said Jace Tyrell, chief executive officer of New West End Company, which oversees more than 600 shops across Bond, Regent and Oxford Streets.
“Visitors from China are often among the highest spenders, with the average spend per visit 1,250 pounds, or $1,864 in 2015,” added Tyrell.
He also noted the increasing number of American shoppers. “During November, sales to American shoppers jumped 51 percent when compared to the same month last year, and we expect this trend to continue throughout the festive season as the interest rate rise within the States will create even better value for the trans-Atlantic shopper.”
For some stores, Boxing Day wasn’t only about bargains: On Saturday shoppers were forced to flee the Intu shopping center in Bromley, southeast London following a fight between two men armed with knives. One suffered a head injury and has been arrested while the other is still on the run.
“Officers have recovered two knives and are seeking to trace a man who was seen running off, possibly discarding a weapon,” a Scotland Yard spokeswoman said, adding the incident was not linked to terrorism.