Not all doom and gloom on the high street
PUBLISHED: 16:00 18 December 2018
The boom in internet shopping has changed our high streets forever.
And coupled with the nerves generated by Brexit uncertainty many retailers are reporting disappointing festive sales.
Gone, whether we like it or not, are the days when each Saturday in the run up to Christmas every town centre in our region would be packed with shoppers struggling to make their way from store to store, weighed down by their festive haul.
These days people are just as likely to buy gifts from their mobile phone while lazing on the sofa as brave the bitter December weather.
And, to be frank, who can blame them?
But our region is blessed with some excellent independent retailers and – as the interviews on this page prove – not everyone is experiencing a gloomy Christmas on the high street.
There are some great independent shops bucking the trend – wrap up warm and go and find them.
Maria Askem, 48, from Ingoldisthorpe, is owner of The Filling Station on Norfolk Street, King’s Lynn and has been in business for 25 years.
“I don’t think it is all doom and gloom in the town centre as there is a lot of opportunities for people, especially in the new year there is going to be a 30pc reduction in business rates.
“We only ever serve turkey at this time of year, and from the first week in November we have people sticking their heads in asking if turkey is on the menu yet. We serve it with stuffing and the butcher can’t keep up with the demands, it’s that popular.”
Amanda Arterton, 59 from King’s Lynn and is part owner of Artertons furniture shop, with her husband, Colin.
“King’s Lynn is, I think, virtually the same as every town, but we try and make the shop the best it can be. We try to do more and give our customers a gold star service.
“We have our ‘Winning Winter Deals’ sale beginning on December 27.”
Steve Eldred, company director of AW Myhill Euronics, which has electrical stores in Diss and Attleborough, said: “We are well supported by loyal customers who we make sure we look after. It is important to have an online site and price is very important but it is the bottom line price people need to look at once things like delivery are included. Unlike the online retailers we are locally focussed and usually cheaper when all things are factored in.”
And Sue Kiddie, owner of women’s clothing and accessories shop Tatters of Diss, said: “The footfall is dramatically down this year. There is also now an obsession with a bargain, which I call the Primark effect. That doesn’t put off the loyal customers who have been coming to us for years, but it probably does stop others.”
Ian Bird, 55, owns Legends and Memories in the Victoria Arcade, which sells pictures of some of the most famous moments in sport across the past 60 years.
He said: “There is definitely still a demand for business.
“People want to capture the special moments they have seen on tv and our range is a great way for people to do this.
“We have not got any discounts over the Christmas period but we are very flexible with customers and they really appreciate that.”
Matt Goddard, owner of Picture Studios in Lowestoft town centre, said: “It is not all doom and gloom.
“We have had a really good November – our second best November in 13 years of being in Lowestoft.
“We end our Christmas period at the end of November and we have lots of offers on gift ideas over the festive season.”
Specialising in family photography and bringing the future of portraiture to today, Mr Goddard, who owns the portrait photography studio on London Road North, added: “We have three for two offers for loved ones and family members to make savings on gift ideas.
“With the three-for-two gifts package you can save as much as £49.95 – a third off.
“For us it has been a really vibrant, positive year – so much so that we are now about to expand and open a new studio in Norwich.”