Dec. 27 - Footfall in London's West End is up by almost a third thanks to an increase in the number of international shoppers flocking to the capital to scoop up the bargains many Brits can no longer afford. Joanna Partridge reports
Waiting to snap up some bargains. Shoppers queued outside large retailers in central London for the start of the traditional sales. SOUNDBITE: Female shopper, saying (English): "We have been here since 5 am so we drove down quite early, hoping to grab a few bargains." Footfall in London's West End was nearly a third up on last year. Discounts of up to 75 percent proved attraction - but with a dreary climate - weatherwise and economically in the UK - much of the shopping was being done by visitors. SOUNDBITE: Male shopper, saying (English): "Just for fun. You know, it's a kind of an experience." Ringing tills will provide some relief for retailers, who've had a tough trading year. Not all buyers ventured out to the shops - record numbers also bought online. Information service Experian said British shoppers made 113 million visit to shops' websites on December 26. Cash-strapped consumers are also comparing prices to make sure they get a good deal. Neil Mason from Mintel believes UK retail sales will improve in 2013, but reductions on the high street may take place more often. SOUNDBITE: Neil Mason, Head of Retail Research, Mintel, saying (English): "Obviously the retailers want to make as much profit at high and obviously full price, but what we're seeing is, as consumers hold off their purchasing habits and leave it later and later, then obviously the retailers then have to go into discount mode and once one goes, you'll then gradually see others follow." While the trading environment remains tough - it might be easier for savvy shoppers to find bargains. The real test for retailers will come in the new year, when the pre- and post-Christmas spend is over and consumers return to watching their cash.