HUNDREDS of students made the most of their student loans and brought a welcome boost to the economy, according to the managers of the top two shopping centres in Portsmouth.
Special student shopping events have been held at Gunwharf Quays and at Cascades Shopping Centre, giving students discounts and providing entertainment.
Both events proved popular with hundreds of students splashing their cash in the stores.
Gunwharf Quays manager Colin Wilding said the event was the best to date, with a definite increase in takings.
He said: ‘It was great. It exceeded all our expectations and those of the students. It was a great evening.’
He said that an increase in student numbers in city had helped to bolster the event.
‘When students come to the university, they’re looking to set themselves up,’ he said. ‘Places like ours are well equipped to do that in one stop.’
He said stores such as Vans, Nike and Doc Marten were popular on the night, and that it was the biggest student event since the centre began holding them four years ago.
He said a mix of British and international students flocked to the centre – and he welcomed plans from the university to expand further.
‘We do get a very good mix of students in Portsmouth, but they all have spending power,’ he said.
Currently there are 21,500 students in Portsmouth, with plans to grow that to 25,000 within five years.
Cascades centre director Rhoda Joseph said she was delighted to see so many students enjoying their event, which saw the centre open after hours.
Cascades has held events before – at the start of the last academic year and at Easter – but she said the one held last week was the biggest to date.
She said: ‘We had a fantastic turnout. It was great to see so many smiling, happy faces throughout the evening and I’m pleased with how many of our retailers got into the student spirit.
‘We had some great entertainment to make sure that everyone had a brilliant night. We have a great selection of retailers that are perfect for students and I’m really pleased so many came along.
‘This event demonstrates how popular our retail offering already is with the younger, student population.
‘We welcome the university’s plan to expand its intake, and the associated growth and investment in the city that comes with it.’
Portsmouth’s council leader Donna Jones also praised the events.
She said: ‘I’m delighted that the events proved so popular for the retailers and hope we’ll see more events like this in the city.’