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Bury St Edmunds's independent retailers share how they performed over Christmas




Independent retailers in Bury St Edmunds have said Christmas 2019 was a 'challenging' but, largely successful period.

All of the owners and managers who spoke to the Bury Free Press reported similar, if not slightly lesser takings to the previous year.

Shopkeepers put unease down to market uncertainty, Brexit and the rise in online shopping, among other factors.

Tim Farnsworth and Liza Elliott of The Shop - Just Our Stall in St John's Street
Tim Farnsworth and Liza Elliott of The Shop - Just Our Stall in St John's Street

Tim Farnsworth, co-manager of The Shop and Just Our Stall, St John’s Street, Bury

“It has been a tough year but we have coped.

“We had a good run off the back of Christmas fayres, people did a lot of shopping at that time.

“In general, I think quite a few people decided to tone it down a bit as there may not have been a lot of money around in December. We have been okay, but I think others might have found it a bit difficult.

“The economy has been down a bit, there has been a lot of uncertainty around Brexit.

“We did feel it was a bit down compared to last year. Bigger businesses were finding it harder as they had further to fall. We’ve all heard about Debenhams and Marks & Spencer in trouble.

“The key is just to make changes to what we do. We did some new furniture ranges and stocked Moroccan pouffes.”

Javelin in Bury St Edmunds
Javelin in Bury St Edmunds

Jeremy Clayton, co-owner of Javelin

“It was certainly a challenging Christmas, with the uncertainty surrounding the election definitely a factor. However we did have a late surge which meant our figures were comparable with 2018.”

Rosie Hunter, who owns Vinyl Hunter in St John’s Street and her own business Curtain Hunters

“Christmas trading this year was good overall considering the economic climate, Brexit and the general election.

“Whilst sales were slightly down, this continues to reflect the increase in online sales which at Vinyl Hunter we recognise. We are making plans to increase our online presence, aiming to use this to encourage customers through our door to receive the ultimate shopping experience for our niche specialised market.

“These customers still expect a personal face to face service, the footfall was good with shoppers continuing to support local independent retailers.”

Rosie Hunter with Chloe Hailstone of Micks Cycles and Justine Booth from Pocket Watch and Petticoats.Picture by Mark Westley.
Rosie Hunter with Chloe Hailstone of Micks Cycles and Justine Booth from Pocket Watch and Petticoats.Picture by Mark Westley.

Chloe Hailstone, manager of Micks Cycles, St John’s Street, Bury

“We saw a steady Christmas period, very similar to last year. The Christmas Fayre seemed to bring a lot of footfall to the town which helped us.

“The council very kindly closed St John’s Street to traffic for three days so we could join in with the festivities. Looking at this Christmas period it was very similar to last year, however we are up year to year. I believe last year was incredibly challenging for retail and the high street. Trying to get people to invest in the independent stores rather than choose the convenience of online shopping is always a challenge, but we seem to have had a steady Christmas and have had a very positive start to 2020.”


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