FESTIVE shoppers have been out snapping up bargains in Taunton.

Some retailers have reported improved sales on last year, despite being hindered by competition from on-line companies, the poor weather and the still-recovering economy.

And in another boost for traders, it seems that shoplifters have largely stayed away.

Mark Raisey, merchandising director at Hatchers, in High Street, said: “Pre-Christmas was satisfactory, and the few days after Christmas have been very good and well up on last year.

“We’ve had some bumper sales days – the television department has done really well, as has clothing, particularly menswear, and general household items such as kitchenware.”

The tills were ringing more than last year at Harlequin Gallery, in Bath Place.

Nancy Murgatroyd said: “We’ve had a steady flow of customers – slightly more than last year and spread nicely over a period of a few weeks.

“I don’t think the good times when everybody was buying like mad are ever going to come back.

“But we’ve done well despite the deepest recession in living memory.”

A spokesman for Debenhams said he was unable to comment on individual stores, although the company in general had recorded poor sales during the key Christmas period.

He said: “We did not experience the anticipated final surge in sales in the last week of the period.”

Andy Sharman, of Somerset West Businesses Against Crime, said members were mainly happy at how the Christmas sales had gone in Taunton.

He added: “Our businesses have done quite well and thankfully there have been few reports of any criminal activity such as shoplifting.”