If staying in is the new going out then the Christmas Party season is good news for sexy lingerie store Ann Summers.
That’s certainly the case in Shrewsbury’s busy Darwin Centre where the Ann Summers store reports a roaring pre-Christmas trade.
According to store manager Leanne Harris Christmas and Valentine’s Day are their busiest times of the year: “Christmas more so because it lasts longer,” she said.
“We also get a lot more men in before Christmas than at other times of the year because they don’t otherwise buy gifts.
“We also get a lot of desperate men rushing in on Christmas Eve because they’ve left it to the last minute
“Sexy underwear sets are usually a man buy but at Christmas we also get women coming in and saying they’re buying it as a present for their husbands.
“But the recession also means that people aren’t going out as much and so stayting in is the new going out.
“Couples often go and get something to eat and drink from the supermarket, a nice bottle of wine to have together, and then they come to us for something and have a night in together.
“But lots of women come here for their underwear because they like what we have on sale while men buy for presents.
“It can be quite funny because they often have no idea what size their partner is – when we ask them they’ll say, ‘Oh, she’s about your size but with bigger boobs or a bigger bum,’ but we know what we’re doing so we’re able to help.”
The big sellers are the ever-popular French maid sets and Santa suits but the store is an Aladdin’s Cave of frills and lace, massage oils and chocolate body rubs, saucy games and fantasy outfits from Super Woman to Naughty Nurses.
Russell Hall, Operations Manager for the Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside Shopping Centres, said: “Ann Summers is a popular store and like everywhere else it’s a busy time for them.
“The staff there are very professional and it certainly adds to the variety that we have in our retail offer here in Shrewsbury”
The party season is certainly a boost to trade with the Secret Santa gifts popular where shoppers buy something for £5 for a company or business party and Leanne says there’s plenty of choice.
“We sell everything from outfits to toys, edibles to massage oils and a lot more besides.
“We often have to help people out but it’s all about customer service and often you have to work out what they want and whether they want something pretty, something raunchy or something sexy but subtle.
“You certainly have to be open minded because anything goes and everyone is different but we’re very well trained and nothing fazes us here at all – it’s each to their own and every customer is different.
“We do get people here regularly for cross-dressing and they tend to come in very early or very late at night and we let them use the fitting rooms if it’s quiet.
“We also get a lot of people who ask us for advice about the products we sell – they often treat us as sex consultants and because we know what we’re talking about a lot of customers tell us things they wouldn’t tell anyone else.
“Ann Summers is unique. No-one else on the high street does what we do and we have to be absolutely 100 per cent but it’s a great place to work.”