Festive trading is hit by a winter washout

RETAILERS are pinning their hopes on post-Christmas sales after persistently poor weather stopped shoppers visiting town centres.

Tuesday, 14th January 2014, 12:00 pm
Quiet trading in Worthing town centre over the Christmas period affected trade

Traders across the Herald and Gazette area took a hit on sales in the festive period, with a series of storms resulting in a drop in footfall and consumer spending.

In Worthing, 10,000 fewer shoppers than last year were counted on the Saturday before Christmas – traditionally one of the busier days.

Year-on-year footfall in December also fell, by two per cent.

In Littlehampton, events and promotional work helped traders have a largely profitable time, but many reported the weather as having a negative effect.

Littlehampton town centre regeneration officer John Edjvet said shoppers appeared to visit out of necessity.

Some traders had also reported struggles, or having to increase turnover to maintain profits.

He said: “ I do think the bad weather has had a negative impact.

“One trader commented that, due to the bad weather in the two-week run-up to Christmas, people who came out did so because they had to, and that some shops missed out on the browsers and impulse purchases.”

Worthing town centre manager Sharon Clarke blamed ‘persistent rain’ for the falls but highlighted encouraging signs for the post-Christmas sales.

She said: “Sales trading has been five per cent up on last year and late-night shopping up seven per cent.

“As soon as it clears up, people are out and about.

“We don’t have covered shopping in Worthing and the one thing we can’t control is the weather.”

Figures compiled by the Town Centre Initiative of how many shops performed better or worse than last year will be available later in the month

Mr Edjvet argued that aside from the weather, out-of-town shopping and internet shopping were also factors.

He said: “It is important that with the Littlehampton Town Team and Littlehampton Traders’ Partnership, we continue to work together to promote the town centre.”