Record number of shoppers but shops still closing

RECORD shopper numbers were reported at the Maltings in the run-up to Christmas, but there was yet more upset on the high street as several businesses announced their closure.

According to the latest footfall reports, December saw shopper numbers at the St Albans shopping centre total 757,000, a 10 per cent increase on the same period in 2010.

The figures suggest that Saturday, December 17, was the busiest shopping day of the month, with just under 40,000 visitors to the centre, one of the busiest days on record.

Traffic in the Maltings car park increased by 13 per cent from 2010, resulting in more than 62,000 cars using it during December.

Centre management is attributing the rise in footfall to the wide variety of premium tenants at the centre and the successful programme of events throughout 2011.

Shopping centre manager, Phil Corrigan, said: “Even when footfall figures are adjusted to compensate for 2010’s adverse weather conditions, figures are still up seven per cent.

“The figures demonstrate that the centre is continuing to be an asset to St Albans and I hope 2012 will be equally as successful. Our exciting events programme is set to continue throughout 2012 so I hope to see even more new faces this year.”

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Despite the record breaking figures, there was still more bad news for the district’s high streets this week, with more shops announcing closure.

Catalogue store Argos has confirmed it will be closing its Harpenden branch this month.

A statement from the company said it would not be renewing its lease on the High Street store and that it would cease trading on January 20.

It also said it would be exploring alternative opportunities for employees who would be affected by the closure, wherever possible.

Underwear chain La Senza has gone into administration and has closed several stores across the UK, including its St Albans branch.

Popular gadget shop Hawkins Bazaar has also gone into administration and closed its St Albans store in the Maltings at the end of December. Five staff members were made redundant.

Retro gift store Past Times, in Market Place, is also believed to be pulling out of the city centre shortly.