Meadowhall boss reveals the popular products flying off the shelves after lockdown
Sales of expensive watches and jewellery are booming due to the pandemic, the boss of Meadowhall has revealed.
Darren Pearce said people were splashing out on posh watches, jewellery and premium clothing with money saved for foreign holidays they’d been unable to take this year.
Outlets like Goldsmiths - a chain retailer specialising in diamonds, designer watches, and gold and silver jewellery - were staging special events to meet demand, he added.
It had helped the mega-mall hit sales figures on a par with normal times, despite restrictions on numbers due to social distancing - a maximum of 13,000 compared to 30,000 capacity - and shops limiting numbers as well, Mr Pearce said.
But the shoppers that did come, came to spend.
He said: “We are in a pretty good position, with sales on a par with two years ago, buoyed by jewellery and premium watches. Premium clothing brands, like those sold in Flannels, are going incredibly well.”
The figures excluded travel agents, which are still affected by restrictions on foreign travel, he added.
Meanwhile, bosses are trying to fill three large stores following the closure of Debenhams, Miss Selfridge and Top Shop and Top Man.
Mr Pearce said Debenhams, the largest, was top priority.
He added: “We have a number of different suitors for the empty shops. We’re expecting to be able to announce something in the summer.”
Earlier this year Meadowhall opened changing rooms for people who bought clothes online. The aim was to combat custom lost to internet shopping.
Mr Pearce insisted people would still come to Meadowhall because they wanted interaction.
He added: “You have an experience at Meadowhall. We are still in a transitional phase but people are feeling more confident and people clamour interactions.”
The last year had been his toughest in 27 years at the centre, he added.
Most shops had been closed for months, some retailers had not paid rent and there had been trouble with youths claiming to have asthma and refusing to wear masks.
But Mr Pearce insisted he never contemplated quitting.
He added: “I have never stopped going in. My job is to stand shoulder to shoulder with the team to make sure they are confident I’m there leading the way. No way was I ever on the edge of giving up.”