CHESHIRE OAKS expects a strong Christmas as more family’s shop and spend more money at its retail centres.
Kenny Murray, general manager of McArthur Glen Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet, said as much. Speaking only to The Standard, he said the local community had recovered well from the multiple lockdowns caused by the Covid pandemic.
During the Covid lockdown in England last year, all non-essential retail outlets were closed.
Those who wanted to shop for Christmas had less time to do so in December after the lockdown ended, and it was more limited.
Therefore, since the lockdown restrictions were lifted in April, Mr Murray reported a boom in business at the retail and highly successful,” some regions reporting growth over the past two years.
According to him, footfall is still down, but people are changing their shopping habits; when they visit, they are spending more and staying longer, and the food and hospitality industries are expanding.
“While this summer has been great, largely thanks to staycations, with many people choosing not to travel abroad, instead spending their savings.”
Mr Murray said one success this year had been the new playground, which, because of the large canopy covering it, is still being regularly used now that winter has arrived.
According to him, “cheerful kids meet happy families.”
The shopping park has also considered the high infection rates associated with Covid, extending Black Friday this year to a week-long event to avoid unnecessary crowds.
According to Murray: “There are still people who are, understandably, hesitant to come out. We have extended our shopping hours to 9 am – 9 pm this week, with hours of 8 am-10 pm on Black Friday itself, and 8 am – 9 pm on Saturday, and the deals don’t end on Black Friday.
“We get the sense that our places are safe places to shop, and we intend to keep it that way. Our Facebook and Instagram store pages show when we are busy and when we are not. We offer parking reservations, hands-free shopping-where someone can carry your shopping for you—and click and receive, which will be introduced this spring.
“We try to make the shopping process simpler and less stressful, as we want people to have a stress-free Christmas.”
This year’s festive attractions at Cheshire Oaks include a Christmas tree that is even bigger than before—by a full 10ft. The Christmas tree is something that many guests missed last year, according to Murray.”
Besides the Winter Village, there are ‘Christmas snugs’ where visitors can sample German bratwurst and hot chocolate, plus a drive-in cinema showing family favourites.
A drive-in movie shows Elf on Tuesday, December 7 at 7.30 pm and Home Alone at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, December 8.
Film screening proceeds, along with donations, will go to the year’s charity at Cheshire Oaks, Passion for Learning, based in Ellesmere Port.
There are also new brands, and not just for Christmas, including Victoria’s Secret inside Next and Pinko in the designer district.
Murray continued: “Our goal is to create such a relaxing environment where people feel comfortable returning.”