Bluewater, the Kent shopping centre, saw record footfall levels for its final weekend of the pre-Christmas trading period.

Added to the weekend record, Monday 22nd December was its busiest day in five years with 180,000 shoppers.

It said more than 270,000 people visited Bluewater on Saturday and Sunday, 8.5% higher than forecast and 10% higher than the same weekend in 2007.

In three days nearly half a million people visited the shops and restaurants at the mall.

Andrew Parkinson, Bluewater general manager, said: ‘Strong promotional offers from some of our retailers, a surge in last minute shopping, and the passing of the guaranteed delivery deadline for internet purchases, led significant numbers of guests to Bluewater this weekend.’

He added: ‘Anecdotal feedback from retailers indicates that fashion, accessories, gifts, beauty and pampering products were the weekend’s ‘hot items’. Unsurprisingly, men were out buying lingerie and jewellery.’

The news of the number of visitors out in force this week comes as record numbers of retailers begun sales early, prior to Christmas, in a bid to tempt shoppers to spend.

PricewaterhouseCoopers reported that a record 82 of the country’s biggest retailers were running discounts.

Footfall figures measure the number of people visiting a shopping area, rather than the actual number of sales made.