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South Shields premier political blog

Bank Holiday Blues

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Retail sector only slowly improving

I had a fee paying job to perform in South Shields this morning and I was delighted to see so many retailers open for business in King Street, the market was busy, and shoppers had thronged to the town. Considering that most major retailers have reported poor year on year like for like growth figures recently
it was good to see that they were prepared to try and attract business on a Bank Holiday. However, it was not a completely rosy picture, our town centre like many others is a “clone” with so many national chains operating there cheek by jowel with a few local “independent” companies. These smaller independents are what gives some town centres that little extra added value, a niche market for those that specialise. Their availability to customers on Bank Holidays is only slowly improving.

Yet one couldn’t buy any saveloys at Dicksons today, nor could you stock up with printing cartridges at GHI Computers. It was even worse in Morpeth this afternoon when I took my children to see a different place. The Northumberland market town had been “invaded” by tourists, Carlisle Park was packed full, rowing boats were in full use on the river, the streets were thronged with expectant shoppers, in this town renowned for it’s “niche” independent traders. I love the cheese shop opposite the clock tower, but along with about 70% of other retailers it was closed, so no cheese for Mrs. Curly today!

With the British economy facing an uncertain future over the coming year it was disappointing to see so many businesses unprepared to take money on a day when footfall would have been huge! I know after spending thirty years in retail and being used to working on Bank Holidays that it is not always a popular decision to open for business, costs rise as premium payments are made to staff and extra days off in lieu have to be arranged, but the benefits have always outweighed the costs.

The DIY sheds may have led the way in changing our shopping and Bank Holiday habits but it seems to me that others are still a little slow to follow.

Do you prefer to see the shops open, in general, on Bank Holidays, or do you prefer to see your towns empty and shuttered?

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Written by curly

May 5, 2008 at 8:36 pm

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