Shops braced for post-sales slump

Pictures Martin Bostock.'Martin Hunns (right)

Pictures Martin Bostock.'Martin Hunns (right)

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A LAST-minute Christmas rush could have saved traders – but next year will be one of the toughest yet businesses have warned.

Despite fears of a festive slump, shopkeepers in Cleveleys said a late Christmas Eve surge and Boxing Day sales meant they had matched last year’s sales figures.

But business owners still believe things could get worse for the Wyre town – which has been hit hard by the closure of the tram track with works due to be completed in April – before they get better.

A price hike on parking charges across the borough on January 1 has increased their fears.

Martin Hunns, chairman of Cleveleys Chamber of Trade and owner of Carousel Diner on Kings Road, said: “In the run-up to Christmas it was pretty slow, the high street was very quiet.

“But on Christmas Eve and the day before, there was a sudden rush of customers buying last minute gifts and food which could have saved us.

“We were not open on Boxing Day but on Tuesday we matched last year, which considering the difficulties we have faced is fantastic.

“So if the trend continues and the weather holds we could hit our target which is vital when you think about what we will face next year.”

Mr Hunns said he was “infuriated” by Wyre Council’s decision to increase parking charges by 10p for two hours and 20p for four.

He said: “January is a bad month anyway, especially when children go back to school, so to throw this on us as well is a disgrace.

“I just hope we have done enough this week to ride out the coming storm.”

John Prothero, of Fredericks on Victoria Road West, said he was pleasantly surprised with his Christmas takings but warned the town should brace itself for difficult times ahead.

He said: “Cleveleys has definitely recovered from the road works in some respects, people are coming back and we are happy with what we have done in the current climate.

“It was exactly where we predicted to be and on target, but there are a lot of different types of business here and I cannot speak for everyone. What I would say is next year is going to be difficult and will be a trying period for everyone, especially the first few months.

“But if we work hard at it and give people what they want, quality service with a capital ‘S’ we should be OK.”

Maureen Lawton, of Lawton’s Lingerie, on Anchorsholme Lane East, said she had noticed a difference in sales throughout the year.

She added: “We have been fairly quiet over the Christmas period but I wouldn’t say there has been a huge difference on last year.”

Wyre Council said it had offset a rise in residents’ parking passes to soften the blow of car park price hikes.