How Norfolk town is weathering cost of living crisis

King's Lynn

Shoppers on a drizzly day in the centre of King's Lynn - Credit: Chris Bishop

Traders in King's Lynn have mixed views when it comes to the cost of living crisis, as Chris Bishop found out.

Families living in one of the town's most deprived areas needed help to keep their children fed over the Easter holidays.

And it seems more and more are turning to discount stores and charity shops to buy their basics.

But despite the doom and gloom, shoppers are still getting set to spark up their barbecues and enjoy a knees-up for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. 

The community shop 

Emma Brock

Emma Brock, who runs the Community Shop on the Fairstead estate in King's Lynn - Credit: Chris Bishop

Emma Brock runs the Community Shop, whose profits are ploughed back into helping families on the Fairstead Estate.

"During the Easter holidays we were helping about 150 families after the county council stopped the school meal vouchers," she said.

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"We stepped in to feed the children because they'd have gone without. There was one young mum, she was pregnant, she was in tears, she'd have gone hungry otherwise.

"I never thought I'd see the day when parents would have to make that decision: 'do I skip a meal so there's food there for the children?'." 

The butcher's shop

King's Burtchers

Daniel King, at King's Butchers, said it had not been affected by the squeeze - Credit: Chris Bishop

Daniel King at King's Butchers, in South Lynn, said: "We haven't really been affected at all, to be honest.

"The energy prices went up in April, I think you've got to give it a couple more months to see.

"I think the town centre shops have been finding it harder. One of the town centre butchers closed last week.

"Our prices have gone up, meat's gone up, chicken's gone up - but we're coming to the busy period as well, the sun's out, people are having barbecues."

The discount store

King's Lynn Discounts

King's Lynn Discounts has grown from a contactless delivery service into a shop - Credit: Chris Bishop

King's Lynn Discounts, on Loke Road, sells food and drink items by the case.

"We're not just getting people from this area," said Nigel behind the counter. "We're getting people in big cars, Range Rovers, Audis.

"They're coming to buy things by the case because it's a lot cheaper. Some people spend a lot of money.

"My son started it when the first lockdown was on to do contactless delivery and it's just built up from there."

The DIY store

Steve Bond

Steve Bond at Splinters DIY store on Wisbech Road, South Lynn - Credit: Chris Bishop

Shop assistant Steve Bond works at Splinters DIY, on Wisbech Road. 

"The minimum wage is now £9.50 but I'm not gaining anything because the electric's gone up," he said.

"If I go into town it's just for essentials these days. What is there in the town centre - you've got charity shops, you've got vape shops, that's all there is, there's nothing in town any more, people just shop online.

"The first year of lockdown, we made a killing on fence paint. In the first year a lot of people sorted their gardens out because there was nothing to do, everyone was in lockdown."

The charity shop

Tony Wymer

Tony Wymer outside the new Veterans at Ease charity shop in King's Lynn - Credit: Chris Bishop

Military mental health support charity Veterans At Ease has just opened its second Norfolk charity shop on Lynn's Norfolk Street.

The Tyneside-based charity's lead therapist, Tony Wymer, said: "This is a time when charity shops are playing an integral part in society.

"They're also recycling stuff, re-using things - that can only be a positive thing.

"We provide free psychotherapy to the armed services community. Money always plays a part, it's always a worry."

The party shop

Ian Ashford

Ian Ashford at Castle Costumes in King's Lynn - Credit: Chris Bishop

Castle Costumes, which sells fancy dress and party supplies on Norfolk Street, is doing a roaring trade in Union Jack-branded Jubilee merchandise like hats and flags.

"People like to party when the chips are down and there's a Jubilee coming up," said owner Ian Ashford.

"They need a bit of escapism from the grim reality of life. People still like to enjoy themselves, they still like to let their hair down.

"The Jubilee is going to give the whole county a lift."