CUSTOMERS enjoyed an evening party to celebrate the opening of the latest fashion store at Oxford’s Westgate Centre.

American chain Urban Outfitters opened at 5pm yesterday, with shoppers invited to enjoy a DJ set and free wine and beer.

The opening continues the shopping countdown to Christmas at Westgate Oxford and follows the opening of Spanish fashion giant Zara, which switched from the Clarendon Centre.

Urban Outfitters gave customers the chance to win £500 to spend in the store and gave them a free limited edition tote bag.

The chain has its headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and also operates in the UK, Sweden, Spain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Israel and Pakistan.

Stores mix up fashion items for men and women with homeware.

Retail expert Keith Slater said: “Like Next before them Urban Outfitters are mixing fashion and homeware to try to maximise the transaction value out of customers.

“They know footfall is reducing because of online sales so they have to see if they can get customers to spend more than they intended.

“I expect the Westgate Centre, and traffic in Oxford to be extremely busy this Christmas and would urge shoppers to use public transport if they can.

“But I am hearing on the grapevine that some traders are not having such a good time and I know Debenhams really need customers to come in and shop.”

Urban Outfitters is expected to be one of the last major retailers to open at the £440m shopping complex which opened in October, 2017.

More than 19 million shoppers visited in the first year, exceeding expectations of the shopping centre owners.

Japanese fashion chain Uniqlo was a massive draw on the opening day, with queues forming outside.

Spanish fashion chain Mango has not yet opened its new store.

A spokeswoman for the Westgate Centre said it was now ‘97 per cent let’.

A number of shops at the centre are holding their own special Christmas promotions. Department store John Lewis is staying open late for shoppers, from Monday until Saturday, December 22, when it will remain open until 9pm each night. This excludes Sundays.

And Junkyard Golf Club is staging a free golf and cocktails night on Monday.

The car park was filling up with shoppers yesterday afternoon as they looked to complete their purchases early before the Christmas rush sets in.

Footfall in the city is up about nine per cent since the Westgate Centre opened, and owners Land Securities are paying the city council an additional £4m a year.