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Snow lands Bexley's independent retailers a blow in their Christmas profits

PUBLISHED: 10:12 30 December 2010

Snow blizzard in Sidcup INVICTA KENT MEDIA

Snow blizzard in Sidcup INVICTA KENT MEDIA

Archant

Independent retailers suffered a blow to Christmas trade as the snow and arctic conditions stopped shoppers and deliveries coming through their doors.

The huge snowfall in the run-up to Christmas not only affected small independent companies in Bexley, but caused massive high street retailers to take a dip in their profits.

Traders across Bexley said the snow forced shoppers to stay at home, along with town centre parking charges and competition from shopping centres.

Andy Doran, 59, owner of independent bookshop Falconwood, in Falconwood Parade, Welling, which sends orders for its specialist transport and military books all over the world, said: “I’ve had to tell people in Russia that their order will not arrive in time because we have two inches of snow. Trade was down because people couldn’t get here because of the snow as my customers travel from all over the country.”

Co-owner of Nuxley Toys in Falconwood Parade, Welling, Jean Rose, 72, said shoppers who stayed away because of the snow did not return once it had cleared. She said another branch of the shop in Gravesend could not open because staff from Swanley could not make it in after it took them seven hours to get home.

Mrs Rose said: “The main problem round here is the parking. People will go to Lakeside or Bluewater where they can spend the whole day with free parking.

“Here, I often see people getting tickets and then they shout at the poor parking attendants that they will never come back to Welling. On Bank Holiday Tuesday hardly any of the shops in Welling were open.”

Manager of Broadway Jewellers in the Broadway, Bexleyheath, Mark Sandum, said he was playing eye-spy on what was supposed to be the busiest retail day of the year - the Saturday before Christmas.

He said: “We had a lovely brisk morning and then it was dead. It returned to normal after that but it puts you behind and you never really recover.”

Footfall across the country was down 6.1 per cent over the last three days before Christmas, compared to the same period last year. The previous week, the number of people shopping in stores other than food outlets was down by 8.8 per cent compared to last year, with footfall last Saturday before Christmas disrupted by snow, down almost a quarter on the same Saturday of 2009.

Manager of Bexleyheath’s Broadway Shopping Centre, Peter Sedge, said in the run-up to Christmas, late night shopping suffered as the cold weather kept shoppers indoors.

He said after the thaw shoppers did return with trade in the few days before Christmas ‘tremendous’. The centre was packed every day and the Christmas grotto received a record number of visitors.

He added: “Overall on the month footfall remained very strong and is 3.7 per cent up on last year.

“The sales are now in full swing and the public seem to be taking full advantage of this as since Boxing Day the crowds have once again returned and I don’t see this diminishing until next week as people start returning to work.”

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