THE tills rang in a record-breaking start to the year at York’s Designer Outlet as festive sales figures soared to new heights.

McArthurGlen saw a nine per cent increase in like-for-like sales from October to December, and the retail park also enjoyed its best- ever first week of the sales, from December 26 to January 2.

The outlet, which has more than 100 resident stores, recorded its highest ever sales on December 27 and an uplift of 21 per cent on Boxing Day.

Mike Thomas, centre manager, said: “To build on our successful trading, this year we are carrying out vast enhancements to the centre. It’s about taking the shopping experience to a new level of excellence.”

Successful sales trading has also been echoed at Monk Cross Shopping Centre where the park’s manager Katherine Sharp said: “We ran two events on the first two weekends in December and we saw a big increase in car numbers on the site. From there on it remained really busy.

“We saw a slight drop just before Christmas, but then when the sales hit it went fanatical. We saw a huge increase in year-on-year customer figures. That has been reflected in the information we have received from our individual retailers.”

Customers also hit the city centre high street as footfall figures, recorded on a camera in Parliament Street, hit their highest- ever recorded for December since the camera was installed in 2009.

The positive trading results sit hand in hand with newly released retail vacancy figures in painting a picture of prosperity for York.

Produced annually by Blacks Property Consultants, of Fulford, the city-centre year-end research survey has revealed only six per cent of retail stock in the area is available for sale, and/or to let.

The figure is below the national average, and is also an improved position from York’s 2012 figure. Of that six per cent available, 12 per cent is already “under offer”.

Andrew Hedley, Blacks managing director, said: “The street most likely to attract greatest investment interest is Stonegate; a street where few opportunities arise.

“Also worthy of note is the continuing development of the Swinegate Quarter where owners are working hard to achieve a successful mix of retail occupiers.

“Looking to the future, and with competition from out-of-town retail and the internet never greater, we need to forget the cosmetic changes for now and do something about the parking charges.

“At least give the traders, current ones and future ones, a chance to survive and solve one of the key influencing factors. The economy may be beyond our control, but parking is something that we can do something about.”