TIMES are a-changing as Mansfield shoppers move increasingly towards buying Christmas presents online - leaving the High Street to find new initiatives to keep sales flowing.
The festive rush has traditionally been big business for town centre stores, but this year looks like being the biggest Christmas yet for online purchases.
Shoppers in the UK are believed to have spent a whopping £19m-an-hour over the internet on 5th December - the biggest online shopping day of the year.
And business leaders are predicting a tough run-up to Christmas for traders despite the efforts of town centre businesses.
George Cowcher, chief executive of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “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.
“Thankfully this year, we haven’t yet had any severe weather which had a huge impact this time last year in terms of people staying at home and doing their Christmas shopping online instead of venturing into town, although shoppers do increasingly turn to the internet to hunt out bargains that may not be available on the High Street.”
Many Mansfield stores, including Expressions and Glance, are having to reduce prices and stand out from the mainstream market in order to attract customers.
Katherine Eskew, at Expressions, spoke enthusiastically about greater activity over quieter days.
“We’ve had a whole section of reduced stock and our gadgets are perfect for children’s stocking fillers. Sometimes we don’t always meet targets on busy dates but lately we’ve over-performed on quieter days, which is a real bonus.”
But other stores have been struggling, and one of Glance’s managers, Lucyna Sidokko, spoke about the unpredictable nature of the Christmas market.
“Late evenings on Thursdays have been popular with the public but mornings especially are really quiet,” she said. “We’ve had lots of deals on shoes and dresses but we’re not always making the money back.”
Online shopping has proven to be more convenient for shoppers but worries about deliveries arriving means that the High Street remains a viable alternative.
Cathy Mumford, owner of Diva Gifts website, says that despite selling items specifically for Christmas her most successful experiences are from hosting events around the area.
“I’ve been getting orders for Christmas items but it’s not been as busy as last year,” she said.
“People have been more interested in bags, purses and books and have attended different fairs I’ve hosted.
“Over 70 people came to the Ravenshead Village Hall which shows they’re still interested in coming out of the house.”