Idlewells Centre enjoys busy Christmas run-up despite internet boom

NMAC11-3470-1''Sutton Christmas Shoppers
NMAC11-3470-1''Sutton Christmas Shoppers

IT’S been a mix of internet and high street shopping for Ashfield residents this Christmas - although it would appear that shopping online is the now the most popular choice.

Readers who posted on Chad’s Facebook page said that they would rather shop online because they thought it was cheaper, easier and they did not have to worry about parking.

Across the UK, high street retailers have braced themselves for a difficult festive season in the face of online competition and the recession.

But in Sutton and Kirkby, business leaders are relatively optimistic that people are still shopping locally.

Andrew Wraight, who is manager of the town’s Idlewells Centre, said business has been better than last year when the snow meant people could not get out.

He says: “For us, it’s been so far so good. We have had a massive improvement against the previous year at the beginning of the month.

“We have got all our units occupied so we are in the strongest position we can be.

“Sutton does draw on a local base of customers and people are still coming in and spending money.”

Chris Brown, who is an accountant for E. A. Bird & Sons butchers in Kirkby, says that staff are expecting a rush on Christmas Eve.

He said: “Saturday is going to be a shopping day this time. We are a bit down at this point - but not dramatically.

Mr Brown also said that the shop had loyal customers who were prepared to come into town.

“A lot of folks come in on the bus,” he says.

“Car parking has been messy but it doesn’t seem to have put people off.”

Meanwhile, George Cowcher, chief executive of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce said: “Feedback from chamber members would suggest that business remains tough in the run-up to Christmas and many are having to either start discounting early or introduce other promotions to attract customers.

“Looking back to this time last year, we had that severe cold snap in the run-up to Christmas, which saw many people buying online instead of venturing out to shop.

“Thankfully we’ve not had that this year yet, as Christmas is such a crucial trading period.

“I think the challenge in Ashfield has always been to ensure that its retail offering is as competitive as it can be to attract shoppers into their town centres, rather than venture further afield to larger retail centres like Mansfield and Nottingham.”