Newland Avenue traders warn of big downturn in Christmas sales
TRADERS in Newland Avenue say they having their worst Christmas sales in years.
Chairman of Newland Traders Association, Adrian Wright, says businesses are reporting a downturn in trade in the run-up to Christmas.
He noticed it has been quieter this year at his shop, Stamps Electricals, as the recession bites hard and people turn away from the high street.
He said: "This is the worst I've seen. It's been so quiet, lots of traders have mentioned it to me.
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"We used to be snowed under at this time of year."
On December 19 last year, the shop had nine delivery orders. On the same day this year, it had one.
He worked at the shop for four years before taking over as owner four years ago.
Mr Wright said the decline in diversity in Newland Avenue might be a contributor.
He said: "Over the past few Christmases, trade has gone down, year on year."
It is a story echoed by many other businesses that not getting the Christmas rush they hoped for.
Dean Webster, owner of Webster's Family Butchers, in Newland Avenue, said: "Compared to last year, there is a hell of a difference.
"There doesn't seem to be any passing trade.
"This year we are having to hope people come in off the street before Christmas because we haven't had the orders."
Stalwart of the Avenues, Matt's Deli owner Kathleen Ainley, who has been there for 19 years, has seen a serious drop in takings.
Mrs Ainley said: "Last year there was a little bit of a drop but this year has been so much worse."
The deli's pork pies are usually a Christmas hit.
Last December, the business had 50 orders. This year, it has only had two, so they have had to be cancelled.
Mrs Ainley said: "We used to get a lot of people who would do their Christmas shopping then pop in for a sandwich but there just don't seem to be that many doing their shopping down here."
In Stamps Electricals, staff would normally be rushing about at this time of year helping customers, Mr Wright said.
Instead they are sitting sorting out paperwork, which they would not usually do until January.
Mr Wright said: "I am hoping we get a late rush this year but it is not looking good."
He wants to encourage residents to support the community and their local high street, instead of heading to chain stores.
He said: "I think we need to say to people, 'Why join the queues in town when you can come here and get what you need and get much better service.'"