RETAILERS in Henley have reported a huge boost in trade during this year?s royal regatta
RETAILERS in Henley have reported a huge boost in trade during this year?s royal regatta.
Most who spoke to the Henley Standard said their takings were at least 10 per cent up on the same week in previous years.
A large number of customers were from overseas, including many Americans and Australians.
Laurence Morris, who owns Laurence Menswear in Duke Street, said his takings were up 25 per cent on last year.
He said: ?Last year was a record for us but we?ve broken that. People were buying all sorts of things. This is our fourth regatta and I like to think it?s because we?ve established a good reputation but there?s also a general resurgence of confidence in the market and that?s good for small businesses.?
Boatique, which moved from Hart Street to Friday Street in October, also enjoyed a sales boost.
Manager Pete Birch said: ?Across the week we beat last year?s takings quite comfortably. Wednesday, Thursday and especially Saturday were extremely good.
?We didn?t know what to expect after moving but it was very pleasing. We sold lots of deck shoes and our melamine champagne glasses were popular too. I think the hot weather helped and we?re actually in quite a good location as we?re on a shortcut from the river to the town centre.?
Vivienne Connery, owner of the Chocolate Café in Thames Side, said: ?Wednesday was like a normal weekend for us then Saturday and Sunday were like doing five rounds with Mike Tyson. I was doing 13-hour shifts.
?I expected Sunday to be quieter but our breakfasts sold well that morning and people were coming in for tea once the finals were over.
?I think the town was busier generally. I was watching the trainloads of visitors walking past the café to the regatta site and there seemed to be a lot more people. I don?t think it?s down to the weather as it was hot last year. I really hope it?s a sign that the economy?s getting better.?
Boat hire firm Hobbs of Henley saw a 10 per cent increase in bookings compared with last year.
Managing director Jonathan Hobbs said: ?We?ve got more boats than ever and were incredibly busy. Our fleet was being used for a lot of corporate hospitality and private parties. There were bookings across the board, from our small rowing boats to the larger passenger cruises.
?It?s probably because more people want to enjoy the regatta from the river and be closer to the action.
?There was also an increase in corporate bookings after a very quiet seven or so years, which is promising. I think there?s more of a feelgood factor after this year?s election.?
Neil Ainsworth, landlord of the Argyll in Market Place, said it was his most successful regatta in 10 years.
He said: ?We had record food and drink sales and for some reason the atmosphere was a lot calmer as well.
?The local authorities did a great job of preparing businesses for the massive sales opportunities that came up and my staff coped wonderfully.?
Craig Walton, co-director of Louise Claire Millinery, said its new shop in Market Place had fared well.
He said: ?It met all our expectations. Everyone who had asked us to set up in Henley came in. We also took a huge pile of foreign credit cards as a lot of tourists were coming up to this end of town. It?s great that the town?s population goes up so much during the regatta as it gives it a really vibrant feel.?
Mark Duggan, who took over the Three Tuns in Market Place with his wife Sandra four years ago, said his sales were up 10 per cent on last year.
He said: ?You can always bank on the Friday and Saturday being busy but we were packed on all five days. The standout characteristic was just how friendly and relaxed everybody was. There was no trouble and I didn?t have to eject anyone.
?There was a general climate of optimism. People were in a mood to spend money and have a good time.?
Henley Mayor Lorraine Hillier said her Hot Gossip coffee house in Friday Street fared better than her Upstairs and Downstairs tea room in Duke Street.
She said: ?It was pretty hot so I don?t think people were in the mood for sitting indoors with a cup of tea.
?In general this year?s regatta was pretty great for Henley. There was a real ?lift? in the air whereas last summer it felt a little bit flat.
?The town was looking beautiful and most people did their bit to keep it that way. The bins were overflowing because of the number of visitors but at least people were trying to get rid of their rubbish responsibly.
?It was a real boost to the local economy and did a lot to keep us on the map. People were saying how lovely Henley was and that they wanted to come back, which is very promising.?