Shop Local: St Albans retailers warn of a ‘make or break’ Christmas

PUBLISHED: 09:00 22 October 2020

St Peter's Street, St Albans city centre.

St Peter's Street, St Albans city centre.

Archant

Shoppers are being encouraged to spend their money on their doorsteps and protect local retailers as this year’s Christmas shopping season looms.

St Peter's Street, St Albans city centre.St Peter's Street, St Albans city centre.

The trading picture is precarious for shops in St Albans and Harpenden, and it’s up to all of us to help them through the coming months.

Forget the internet, for a really personal experience this festive season there is no alternative to shopping locally, and the Herts Advertiser will be campaigning on behalf of our district’s retailers this Christmas and beyond.

Whether you’re looking for unusual gifts, tasty treats or sensational outfits, independent retailers could be the answer to all your wishes.

We want to increase trade for our local businesses by encouraging our readers to spend their hard-earned savings in shops across the district, to ensure their survival and prosperity into 2021.

Emma Bustamante of Cositas.Emma Bustamante of Cositas.

Many retailers are saying this is a make or break Christmas, as they struggle to cope with the impact of coronavirus and an increase in online shopping.

Cositas owner Emma Bustamante said: “It definitely is, and I really think for loads of my retailer friends it’s really similar. We’ve really, really struggled our way through and I do think now, this side of the pandemic, where we’re open again and lockdown’s eased, we’re lucky that we’re still here but this doesn’t mean that we’re OK. It means that we’re scraping by and in order to fulfil the financial commitments we have as traders on the high street with a bricks and mortar shopwe really need our customers to be shopping with us so we can secure the targets we need to meet to survive this horrible year.”

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Artist Hannah Sessions, of Hannah Sessions Design, said: “For me and many others Christmas is a massive focal point in the year and the income from this should help us to get through the first quarter of the year. Because of this I do feel that this is a definite make or break situation for many sadly.”

Owner of The Dressing Room Deryane Tadd speaks about Coronavirus and her St Albans business. Picture: SuppliedOwner of The Dressing Room Deryane Tadd speaks about Coronavirus and her St Albans business. Picture: Supplied

Deryane Tadd, owner of The Dressing Room, agreed: “No retailer would have planned to be closed for three months this year, so a strong Christmas trade will make or break the year for many retailers.”

Emma Leahy, from Lego shop Bricktraders in Catherine Street, said: “Obviously every sector is difficult and as a business focused on people’s hobbies we have not suffered as much as many others. I really hope people support local business this year rather than the online giants who avoid paying the taxes that fund all of our services.”

Tere Harrington, retail director for Raindrops on Roses, said: “Obviously it’s been a hard few months for many local retailers and the challenges look set to persist. One thing that gives us hope is that St Albans has a strong community spirit and I think people will want to do even more to support their local shops. Raindrops on Roses offers something different, products made by local craftspeople and great quality, and I think this will attract shoppers even if many are having to spend cautiously this year.”

Tara Action, who runs Tara’s Vegan Treats market food stand and online operation, also thinks this will be a make or break Christmas for many traders.

Hannah Sessions Design. Picture: SuppliedHannah Sessions Design. Picture: Supplied

“Christmas is a time you rely on an influx of new customers, a new way of shopping and a time for independents to thrive, so with Covid thrown into the mix, I really hope small businesses can utilise any grants and support available and withstand the pressures of another potential lockdown, whilst staying safe and making enough money to cover their costs.”

Further out of town, at Fleetville Larder, owner Ed Bevin believes supporting independent traders is key to retail diversity.

He added: “We are lucky in that we have retail as well as the eat-in side to our business, but I can see how further pressures and a poor Christmas period could prove fatal to some businesses after the past six months of trading.”


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