Crowds rush to the shops in first big weekend of Christmas shopping – curbing fears for UK's 'ghost town' high streets | The Sun

THERE were renewed hopes for the high street as the first big weekend of Christmas shopping came around.

Thousands have been seen packing out the streets in major cities such as Manchester with the festive season fast approaching.

Shoppers were seen clutching branded bags and making their way to and from their favourite stores on a chilly Saturday.

Others appeared keen to nab a bargain or get their Christmas shopping done early.

The numbers flocking to the high street could spark hopes that retailers will recover amid worrying tales of "ghost towns" up and down the UK.

Reports of shuttered shops and eerily quiet streets have made for grim reading in the past year.

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Locals of once-thriving Dagenham, East London, said they have "had enough" of the ghost-town borough as old hotspots have closed and "nothing changes".

Meanwhile, residents in Ashton, Greater Manchester, have been devastated by the decline of their previously bustling high street.

Locals of have seen the community economy collapse and anti-social behaviour on the rise.

Others in Southampton have slammed the "death of the high street" as a retailer with more than 400 locations gears up to close another store.

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Market traders in other places have seen their custom dry up as other shops shut their doors long ago.

But the high street may not be dead just yet.

This year's Black Friday was the "busiest shopping day on record", according to Nationwide Building Society, as shoppers shook off cost-of-living woes to make the most of festive deals.

Nationwide members made 9.92 million purchases on Friday, which the bank said is equivalent to more than 114 transactions every second.

The figure is 2 per cent higher than on Black Friday last year and 12 per cent higher than on the same day in 2021.

Mark Nalder, director of Payment Strategy at Nationwide Building Society, said: "This Black Friday was the busiest shopping day on record, up 2 per cent on Black Friday 2022, with our customers making 9.92 million purchases – equivalent to over 114 transactions every second.

"While some of this would have been everyday spend, many will have used the day to help them get a bargain on Christmas presents or a treat for themselves.

"While most will be happy with their purchases, others are likely to regret their impulse buys and it is likely we will see a few refunds into customers' accounts over the next few days and weeks."

The record is based on Nationwide's own data, looking back at spending by their members.

By 5pm on Friday, Nationwide customers had made 6.66 million transactions – 11 per cent higher than a typical Friday and 3 per cent more than Black Friday last year.

Electricals chain Currys said sales of some of its tech products more than doubled this month as it rolled out new deals.

Strong demand for games consoles saw sales jump by 131 per cent in recent weeks, compared with average weekly sales over the previous six weeks, amid the launch of a new Call Of Duty video game – which it said was a Black Friday bestseller.

Beauty tools soared by 190 per cent, coffee machines up by 105 per cent, and air fryer sales were up by 75 per cent over the same period, Currys revealed.

Meanwhile, banking group Barclays revealed that the volume of purchases leading up to Black Friday was higher than this time last year, as retailers continue to launch sales earlier in the month.

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