Our city streets are busy - but sales are going to the giants

Police keeping an eye on Christmas shoppers out in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Police keeping an eye on Christmas shoppers out in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Next year is looking bleaker than ever, Norwich's independent retailers have warned, with the final Saturday before Christmas not bringing in the sales many hoped for. 

Although the city was busy with shoppers, small and family-run businesses said they saw little of the footfall - particularly in areas of the city already struggling to attract customers. 

With the big day just around the corner Mark Hedge, manager of Cookes Band Instruments in St Benedicts Street, said sales have never been more difficult to come by. 

Mark Hedge of Cooke's music store. Picture: Archant

Mark Hedge of Cooke's music store. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

"In the first two weeks of December last year we made 1,032 sales. This year we made 369.

"Some of it is down to the virus, some of it is down to the changes in parking and driving on the street, and some is down to the fact that one of our closest car park has been changed into a testing centre," Mr Hedge said. 


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"We were already struggling because of the changes to access on St Benedicts so people can't load their heavy items like drum kits into vehicles.

"When you walk around the city you see queues for the likes of Primark - not the independent shops. 

Christmas shoppers in face masks out in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Christmas shoppers in face masks out in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

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"I think people just want convenience but it's shops like ours where you get the real expertise," he said. 

It is this commitment to quality service which led this paper to launch its Shop Local campaign, a plea to readers to support the businesses which need it most. 

It was similarly quiet in Timber Hill but businesses are going from strength to strength online. 

Raymond Joscelyne, the co-owner of Design House said: "The store itself has been quieter than last year but we're up by around 50pc in online sales so we're fairly happy with that. 

"Businesses as a whole isn't up but thanks to web sales we're at about the same level as last year when we had more store sales.

"We had 31 sales in our busiest day - it was after a weekend - and I'd say our average is about 15 online orders going out a day. 

Christmas shoppers at Norwich Market. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Christmas shoppers at Norwich Market. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

"I think shopping online is a sign of things to come. The difference with an independent like us is that we're one of maybe 12 suppliers or fewer in the UK that have these items.

"Our items are customisable - they tend to need a greater level of expertise when selling and delivering them - and you just can't do that through a chat box and without the right knowledge."

Christmas shoppers out in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Christmas shoppers out in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020


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