Swansea shoppers defy the snow and ice to splurge on new swimwear

Swansea shoppers have been ignoring last month’s icy blast of winter and looking ahead to warmer weather to snap up new season swim and beach wear.

Debenhams in the city’s busy Quadrant Centre reported that sales of swimwear are up 51% compared to this time last year, with bikinis, swimsuits, beach hats and flip flops all popular January purchases.

Many shoppers are already buying their holiday essentials and even braving the snow and ice to make their swim and beachwear purchases early, according to Debenhams Swansea Manager James Loxdale.

He said: “It’s a surprising trend to emergemid-January, especially in light of the recent bad snow and the cold spell we’ve seen across the country.

“The last thing you’d expect to be on people’s minds are teeny-weeny bikinis when in reality, everybody’s wrapping up warm in thermals, gloves and scarves to beat the winter chills.

“We’ve seen reports that holiday bookings peaked in early January, so perhaps customers are planning their beach wardrobes ahead this year, and are buying as soon as they’ve booked their break.”

According to Virgin Holidays who have a shop in Debenhams in the Quadrant Centre, holiday bookings in January 2013 are soaring with their busiest day for booking holidays up 40% vs. last year, as families and couples look to sunnier times in the year ahead, and want to plan their annual holiday in advance.

As well as families looking to the year ahead, many couples choose January and February to get away from the daily stresses of work and the cold winter weather, and book a sunny break for the New Year.

Johnny Parker, Manager of the Virgin store, said: “We have seen a surge in people booking sunshine breaks for later in the year recently.

“Families are booking early to ensure they get the best early deal, and many start budgeting and saving for their annual holiday as soon as the Christmas decorations are down.

“Following in the footsteps of celebrities such as Simon Cowell, Wayne and Coleen Rooney and Alexandra Burke, holidays to the Caribbean and countries such as Thailand, Dubai and Australia are hugely popular this time of year, particularly with young couples looking for a post-Christmas getaway.”

Ian Kirkpatrick, manager of the Quadrant Centre, said: “You have to take your hat off to people in Swansea – you might have expected a run on long johns and thermals but they have gone out and bought their swimsuits.

“We do have a real outdoor presence in the Quadrant as part of our retail mix and that reflects the area with its fabulous coastline and countryside and sunny climate.”

Debenhams in Swansea have actually increased the sales area of the beachwear section in response to demand and will continue to roll out further holiday products, including men’s, women’s and children’s swimwear, beach wear, flip flops, beach bags and beach towels in a bid to meet demand for these items so early on in the year.

James Loxdale added: “South Wales has been one of the areas worst hit by the snow and perhaps that’s why we have been one of the busiest areas for swimwear sales.

“Swansea is an outdoorsy sort of a place and it’s right by some fabulous beaches so we do tend to do well for sales of swimsuits and casual wear throughout the year but this January has been particularly busy.”

Debenhams national spokesperson Michelle Dowdall confirmed: “Bikinis have been flying off the shelves in many of our Welsh stores and in south-west England, which is bizarre as these areas have had the worst of the snow over the past week.”

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