Liverpool One attracted 200,000 shoppers on its first day of trading last week, but only 38 shops out of the 80 in phase one were open on the launch day.
One director of a womenswear multiple said he felt let down, as Liverpool One had been billed as one of the biggest openings for the year.
He said: “Only half the units were open. I assume Grosvenor [the leaseholders] spent too long negotiating hard on rents and let the rest of the sites too late for retailers to fit them out in time.”
Although footfall was high, anecdotal evidence suggested Liverpudlians were put off spending by the credit crunch. One middle-market retailer, said: “There were lots of people but not a lot of purchasing.”
However, John Lewis said it had smashed its sales targets by 52% for the first three days, with womenswear the top performer.
The director of the womenswear chain added: “We had a great first day and when the centre is fully let I have no doubt it will be a success – our old Liverpool store was one of our highest density shops.”
Other key openings included a 130,000sq ft Debenhams with its largest men’s department outside London (see below).
Next co-founder George Davies opened a Liverpool Football Club standalone store stocking casualwear.
Footwear retailer Faith introduced its new store design to Liverpool. Gap, H&M, American Apparel, Suits You, Austin Reed, Oasis, Esprit, Republic, All Saints and Zara also opened stores.
Meanwhile, indies said they were confident Liverpool One would boost their market share. Tim Keating, co-owner of young fashion indie Drome said: “If it keeps some of the people who go to Manchester in Liverpool then that’s good.”
A further 30 units are fitting out or are presently in the hands of solicitors.