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Bargain Hunters Throng London Shopping District

December 28, 1987|Associated Press

LONDON — Tens of thousands of bargain hunters jammed London's shopping district today to snap up televisions, china, crystal, rugs and other holiday leftovers marked down in traditional post-Christmas sales.

The City, London's financial district, was a ghost town. But department store-lined Oxford and Regent streets were crowded with parcel-laden bargain hunters.

After one of the busiest pre-Christmas shopping sprees that retailers could recall, Londoners still appeared to have cash or credit to spare. Hundreds queued up in unseasonably warm weather for hours--and in one case, days--waiting for stores to fling open their doors.

"This is the busiest we've ever been," said Catherin Dighton, spokeswoman for the Liberty & Co. store on Regent Street.

And the granddaddy of the winter sales, at Harrods department store in Knightsbridge, doesn't begin until Jan. 6.

British retailers mark down prices only twice a year, after Christmas and in August, when they are usually a hefty one-third to one-half off.

The 1,000 people waiting outside the Liberty store were serenaded by the Brick Memorial High School Mustang Band from Brick Township, N.J. The band, plus majorettes and pompon girls, is in town for the annual New Year's Day parade through the city's shopping district.

One shopper, 21-year-old Straun Kerr of Dumfries, Scotland, camped on the pavement outside Debenhams Department Store on Oxford Street for nine days to raise money for the British Broadcasting Corp.'s Children in Need Appeal.

Kerr, who took donations from passers-by, was the first shopper through the doors and grabbed a 26-inch television set reduced from $560 to just $19.

He said he will donate the set to the charity fund. Debenhams responded by giving him back his $19 to add to the hundreds he had collected.

"It was worth missing Christmas for," Kerr said.

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