SALES PITCH: Spurred on by reductions, consumers are finally making their move in the U.K., offsetting the sluggish pace of retail in recent months. Stores and retail traffic monitors reported record footfall during Christmas week and the post-Christmas sales. According to FootFall, the retail monitor, the number of people out shopping from Dec. 22 to Dec. 28 was up 0.2 percent on the same week last year. FootFall spokesman David Smyth explained: “The retailers held off the sales until the last minute knowing that consumers were going to make their decisions later than ever. We believe that this is evidence that the consumer has decided to change the purchasing cycle at Christmas, and retailers are reacting to this change.”

This story first appeared in the January 5, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Spokesmen from major U.K. stores bore out this view. Selfridges opened its doors for the first time on Dec. 26, called Boxing Day, a national holiday in Great Britain when stores generally have been closed. Selfridges reported footfall of around 100,000 people at its stores, with more than 10,000 transactions made in the first hour. Harrods and Harvey Nichols also began their sales this week, with a Harrods spokesman saying the store took in excess of $10.8 million on the sale’s first day, and that about 250,000 customers have visited the store so far. A spokeswoman for Harvey Nichols described the sales period as being much busier than the previous year, saying, “London is usually quiet at this time of year, but we have been very busy this week, especially in our main designer department. We are seeing discerning shoppers coming in for specific items that have been reduced, rather than just browsing.”