SHOPS across Worcester are celebrating a bumper period at the tills - with footfall rocketing up 13 per cent year-on-year.

The festive period, an extra-early start to the January sales and 'Black Friday' are all being hailed as reasons behind a bonanza season for retailers across the city.

Your Worcester News can reveal how data on city footfall has shown up some startling increases despite the surge of online shopping.

And the good news doesn't end there - hundreds of city shops are now in line for serious tax cuts this spring too.

The data, from Worcester's Business Improvement District (BID), reveals:

- In the week starting Sunday, December 28 footfall was up a staggering 13.5 per cent compared to the same week last year, while the previous week it was up 6.8 per cent

- Data for the week starting Sunday, December 14 reveals a 7.8 per cent increase compared to the same period of 2013, while the previous week it was also up by 3.1 per cent

- The ultimate footfall peak in Worcester for 2014 was timed at 1pm on Saturday, December 20, when desperate shoppers besieged city shops for last-minute bargains

Footfall is measured by four electronic counters positioned across the city, one of which is above Marks & Spencer in the High Street, which is added to data from the Crowngate shopping centre.

The great performance of Worcester's retail offering, which has seen it ranked the second best in the West Midlands across 2014 for occupancy rates, followed by more big name brands coming into the central shopping area, have also been cited as important factors influencing the data.

Adrian Field, from Worcester BID, said: "Generally it's been really good - a lot of shops exceeded their targets.

"We've spoken to 25 of them and 23 were pleased with how last month was, things like Black Friday took them a little bit by surprise and changed some of the patterns in how people shop.

"For some Boxing Day was not quite as good as it's always been because of that, and a lot of the sales started before Christmas.

"The footfall data was strong, going from that and anecdotally I think it's been good. The milder weather also helped."

Independent trader Becky Sutcliffe, who runs fashion shop 25 Boutique in Friar Street, said: "It's been really buoyant, December kicked off very well with the Christmas fayre and we were able to prepare for that and get the right kind of stock in.

"It's been a milder season than normal but we've been able to react to that and cancel things, so we were ready to give people what they want."

It comes as figures were released from the Government revealing how many retailers are in line to benefit from important business rate reforms from April.

Some 530 shops, pubs and restaurants across Worcester will benefit from discounts worth £1,500 on their rates - £500 more than last year.

The two per cent 'cap' on business rates will help 2,214 city businesses, while 552 of them will pay no taxes at all under the special 'rate relief' aimed at primarily helping small, independent retailers survive.

Another 336 will get a special tapered discount so they also pay less.

Worcester MP Robin Walker uncovered the business rates relief figures after asking the Government.

He said: "It's fantastic news that hundreds of small local retailers will have this boost.

"I have always spoken up for local businesses and it was a pleasure to do much of my Christmas shopping in some of Worcester’s excellent small independent shops.

"These businesses don’t just provide jobs and careers for people - they also add to the colour and the enjoyment of our city and help make Worcester such a special place to be.

"2015 should be an exciting year for retail in Worcester with big new entrants such as Waitrose and Home Bargains opening up in the city, but we must keep supporting our smaller shops and high streets.

"I want to see Worcester stay a lively and exciting place to shop."