SHOPPERS packed out Westquay on the last full weekend before Christmas.

More than 100,000 people made their way through the north and south buildings on the busiest day of the year.

And with this being the south building’s first fully operating Christmas, consumers and businesses have reaped the benefits of everything on offer.

With a seasonal ice rink, carol singers and a Santa’s grotto shoppers were able to make a day of it, with many taking the opportunity to visit the cinema and a restaurant as well as hitting the shops.

Peter Pcholkan of the Chilli Emporium said he had had three months’ worth of customers in just two weeks. He said: “It’s been very, very busy” while assistant manager at Office shoe shop Victoria Newbold added:

“We’re doing better than last year. We’ve gone beyond our targets.

"I think maybe because young people know exactly what they want - people are heading straight for the tills because they’re buying presents”.

Newly weds Hayley, 31 and Jake, 24, Smith from Park Gate were able to splash their cash at will this year.

Hayley, a saleswoman, said: “We were saving up for our wedding last year but we couldn’t really do much.

"The magic goes a bit when you’re older but I have to say it’s been really magical this year. We’ve still got more to do but it’s been really awesome – all the lights and the Santa in town as well.

"And I think the Christmas markets are so much better. It’s put a real smile on my face”.

Gillian Cartwright, 74, Fareham had come to help her daughter out - although she doesn’t like crowds. She said: “It’s hectic. I would say she’s spent about £5-600. And she’s gone to buy jewellery now as well”.

Families were out together in force. Bo Foster and Samantha Rose had made a start on their Christmas shopping spending about £70 – but Samantha said: “Part of it is Christmas shopping - we’re about three quarters of the way through. But it’s been really good coming in.

"We were singing along in the car to some Christmas songs on the way in getting hyped up”.

Dave, Ruby and Scott Povey made their way in from Romsey and were just “wrapping up” and said: “It’s definitely been a bit manic. We’re just getting the last few things.

"I know we’ve got a week left but it doesn’t feel like it because next week is Christmas eve and you don’t want to leave it til the last minute”.

Jordan and Leanne Newby with Charlie Kirby had made the most of the entertainment and been to the ice rink, before fitting in some shopping and a trip to see Santa.

Jordan, 13, said; “I’m not too old to see him” while mum Leanne added: “It’s been alright and not too hectic”.

Paul Dyer, 45, from Romsey said he had spent about £200 so far and added: “This is just a bit of it. I wouldn’t say it’s been enjoyable but it’s Christmas – it’s to be expected”.

Westquay marketing manager Gina Windsor said: “We hadn’t fully opened last year in the south building at Christmas.

"We had some of the openings in February so it’s definitely a big push on last year”.

Andy Collyer, general manager of Westquay added: “We’ve hit 100,000 visitors on the last few Saturdays and expected this week to be even higher. “