Early internet sales see traders take hit

WH 060115 Montague Street shoppers. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150601-154201001
WH 060115 Montague Street shoppers. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150601-154201001

EARLY online offers contributed to slow sales for town centre traders as post-Christmas bargain hunters shopped in the comfort of their own homes.

Visitors numbers to Worthing town centre on Boxing Day slumped ten per cent, compared with last year’s figures.

Footfall in December improved by 1.5 per cent on the same period last year but town centre manager Sharon Clarke said Christmas Day sales on the internet had affected traders.

She said: “Before Christmas, many traders did well but the larger retailers were doing lots of online sales which definitely affected the amount of people coming into town.

“Several retailers had sales early, on Christmas Day, so people were choosing to stay at home.”

Men’s Gift Shop owner Michael Smith keeps a close eye on the number of shoppers visiting his Montague Street store and noticed trade was slow-going this Christmas.

Having opened for the first time on Boxing Day this year, he said he did not have a comparison but overall, numbers were down.

“Comparing 2013 and 2014, the numbers of people coming into the shop have certainly been down between the five and ten per cent mark.

“It is low. Unfortunately that’s just the nature of how it is.

“On Boxing Day, we know the only people out shopping are looking for bargains.”

David Goodenough, owner of the Good Cook Shop, in Warwick Street, reported a mixed picture.

He said: “Christmas is not what it used to be, not to mention all the online shopping which is a big problem for us, as for any small business.

“But that said, there were a lot of people in the town, we had a lot of people coming in and out, we had our moments where we couldn’t move in here.”

The drop in numbers comes weeks after the Black Friday sales bonanza, which saw a 37 per cent year-on-year rise in shoppers.

John Lewis managing director Andy Street told the BBC this week that retailers should be cautious about concentrating trade into one small period. Mrs Clarke did not feel, however, that this early boost had affected sales after Christmas. She said: “It’s a different type of buying. I don’t think the drop is unique to Worthing.”