Call to back independent stores across Norfolk and north Suffolk as sales start

Independent shop owner David Finlay Independent shop owner David Finlay

Friday, December 27, 2013
6:09 AM

‘Give us your support’ - that was the message from independent traders across our region today.

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The EDP is backing the call and urging people to do their bit to support the smaller, independent shops during the festive sales.

It comes as shops flung open their doors for the Boxing Day sales with many popular chains slashing prices by 50pc.

Today is expected to be even busier with thousands of people heading to town and city centres to spend their Christmas Day cash and vouchers.

Leading the call from independent businesses was David Finlay, who owns Elements menswear store in Lower Goat Lane, Norwich

He said that by supporting them it helped the region’s economy grow by keeping local people in business and in jobs.

He said: “I was the original chairman of the Norwich Lanes group of independent and specialist shops in the city, so I know how very important it is to shop local and to keep supporting independent businesses.

“For one thing, we are needed to help keep the character of the place; otherwise Norwich would become just another clone as a shopping centre.

“We also offer genuine sales. Most independents don’t buy in extra stock for the sales, so we offer genuine reductions on existing stock. Some of the chains buy in extra stock specially for the sales, so they are not real bargains.”

Robin Norton, a director at clothes stores Catfish and Dogfish, also in Norwich Lanes, also backed the call for shoppers to visit independents.

“It’s all about service with independents, more than with chains,” he said. “We offer better service.

“Norwich has got a real heart and soul, especially in Norwich Lanes. There’s a good feeling among the independents here, and going forward we need to work together and promote ourselves. But we need shoppers to visit us to do that.”

Jane Clarke, who runs Cromer fashion store Lily B with her husband Simon, has also backed our call for shoppers to support independent traders.

“Christmas was definitely different this year,” she said. “People are doing a lot of online shopping, which is going to have an impact on independent retailers.

“And I think that’s what the general public have got to be conscious of, if they’re going to support the high street.

“On a personal level I try and do as much of my own shopping in Cromer as I can. It’s nice, you get something a bit different and there’s a good range.”

Mrs Clarke believes people are aware of how important independent traders are in keeping the high street alive, but said shopkeepers also had a part to play in keeping it vibrant.

“I think independent retailers have got to try to work together to look at ways they can provide the things people are not going to the small towns for,” she added.

“For example, a lot of people go to a shopping mall because they like that one place experience; we have got to think how can we as a small town provide something similar.”

Ali Dent runs the last surviving shop in Hilgay, near Downham Market, where his family have run a butcher’s for more than 100 years.

He said independents needed support.

“If not, you’re just going to have the supermarkets taking over,” he said. “They’ll all get together and charge what they like.

“We can get better quality meat and turkeys and stuff. We get people who don’t come all year round who’ll come at Christmas because we can guarantee quality. It’s getting people to come here all the time.”

Shoppers were also out in force on Boxing Day in Great Yarmouth where high street retailers such as Debenhams proved to be honey pots for bargain hunters.

However, many independent traders were closed in the town on Boxing Day, with Palmers set to open today.

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