© Neil Hall. 01/11/2011. London, UK. On Tuesday, 1 November at 6.18pm, the world-famous Oxford Street Christmas lights were switched on in front of Marks & SpencerÕs Marble Arch store by chart topping girl-group, The Saturdays (Una Healy, Mollie King, Vanessa White, Rochelle Wiseman). Following in the footsteps of Leona Lewis, Westlife, The Sugababes and the Spice Girls, 10,000 West End shoppers descended onto Oxford Street to watch Christmas officially unveiled in the West End, which historically takes over one billion pounds in sales during the Christmas shopping season.Despite decorations being on sale across London since July, the festive season only really kicks off when the world famous Oxford Street Christmas Lights are turned on. An event now in its 52nd year, and funded by over 200 Oxford Street retailers, the switch-on was presented by Heart 106.2Õs Toby Anstis. A whole raft of entertainment included performances from sister-duo, The Pierces, and the cast of GHOST The Musical. Jace Tyrrell of New West End Company the organisers of the event says, ÒThe countdown is on and with 54 shopping days until Christmas day. Oxford Street is set attract millions of visitors over the next eight weeks and the 200 flagship stores will be pulling out all the stops to ensure that visitors get the most out of their time in the West End." This year's mile long scheme has been designed and installed by Piggots, a 200-year old British company that has been providing innovative street decorations to the West End since the 1950Õs. Including ten shooting stars, the scheme is made up of 210,000 carbon neutral LED bulbs which use75% less energy than conventional bulbs.Steve Rowe, Director of Retail M&S, says, ÒTurning on the Oxford Street Christmas Lights marks the start of the festive season, and M&S was really proud to be hosting this yearÕs celebrations Ð itÕs been a spectacular experience.ÒMollie King of The Saturdays, says; "For us Christmas is all about shopping on Oxford Street. This is such an exciting event for us to be part of!"Cllr Colin Barrow, Westminster City Council Leader, says: ÒWe are delighted to be a big supporter in getting this seasonal tourist attraction up and running every year. Business in the capital always benefits from an influx of tourists and keen shoppers who are eager to get into the Christmas spirit Ð and we hope this year will be no different.ÒWestminster council is committed to ensuring that businesses can get the best out of the city and, importantly, out of its millions of visitors

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