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Recession – what recession? You could be forgiven for thinking the UK economy is booming after shoppers flooded into Westfield Stratford City in their thousands during its first week of trading.

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Europe’s largest urban shopping centre raked in a record £4 million during its first day last Tuesday, when it had over 200,000 shoppers.

And things just got better and better as the week wore on. Wonderful Wednesday was followed by Thoroughly busy Thursday, Fantastic Friday and then Stupendous Saturday and Super Sunday.

The Westfield Weekend saw so many shoppers trying to get in that at 3pm hundreds were locked out as the centre was filled to capacity. Security guards only let shoppers in as others came out!

On Saturday evening there was over an hour wait for the food outlets.

Over 150,000 shoppers on each of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were followed by over 200,000 on Saturday and Sunday.

It is expected that over £20 million will have been spent in the first seven days of trading.

Laura Passam, Westfield UK and Europe Corporate Affairs spokeswoman said: “The trading has been excellent. On day one Searcys sold a glass of champers every 30 seconds!”

Defying what Mayor London Boris Johnson called the “gloomsters”, customers queued for hours at the £1.45 billion centre for launch day offers at stores such as Forever 21 and Apple.

Kelly Brook provided some glamour for the New Look store launch, while former javelin world record holder, Olympian and member of the Athletics Hall of Fame Steve Backley opened the new ­Vision Express.

Special guests at the opening of the flagship John Lewis store were Leroy and Monica Charles, who were married at St John’s Church in Stratford 50 years ago.

Leroy said: “It’s out of this world. We used to walk down ­Angel Lane when it was just cobbled stones. I wish I could live to see more of it.”

Pupils from Colegrave, the nearest school to Westfield Stratford, did the honours by cutting the ribbon to open the doors at John Lewis.

Colegrave assistant head Jimmy Demetriou said: “It was a real privilege. The children were enthusiastic and did a very professional job.”

For Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales, Westfield Stratford meant one thing: “Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! It’s what our residents want from us,” Sir Robin said.

The 1.9m sq ft mall is ­expected to provide at least 2,000 positions for Newham residents out of its 10,000-strong workforce. Boots’ flagship store, for one, has hired 15 Newham residents, with a further 13 coming from Tower Hamlets.

Community group The East London Communities Organisation (TELCO) was among the many to welcome the arrival of Westfield in East London. They have been working with the shopping mall developer to ensure that all workers employed on the site are paid the living wage, which currently stands at £8.30 an hour. Westfield Stratford has also signed up to the CitySafe campaign championed by TELCO’s parent organisation, London Citizens.

Under the scheme, shops and businesses pledge to ­report crime and anti-social behaviour and offer their premises as places of refuge for young people in immediate danger.

The Newham Recorder Twitter page was tweeted by happy shoppers, praising our Stratford Magazine last week, and one worker tweeted us to reveal she had given up a job in Manchester to come and work in Stratford.

For information about training and employment ­opportunities at Westfield Stratford City, visit http://uk.westfield.com/stratfordcityleasing/community/jobs-training

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