TRADERS in Henley say they experienced healthy sales in the run-up to Christmas.
Shoppers weren’t put off by the poor weather in December and the gloomy economy as they searched for gifts.
Chocolate makers Gorvett & Stone in Duke Street recorded better sales than in the previous year.
Owner Matthew Stone said: “In the week leading up to Christmas it was extremely busy in the shop and our website sales were significantly higher.
“People were buying our handmade chocolate gift boxes as presents as well as for themselves.”
Jackie Redrup, owner of St Audrey’s gift shop in Duke Street, said: “We had a really nice Christmas.
“Trade was about the same as last year, which is quite good in this climate. It always starts with the late-night shopping event, which makes people interested in coming into town and picking up some presents.”
At Bagatelle Toys in Bell Street sales were slow at the beginning of the month but improved as Christmas approached.
Manager Nicholas Carlton said: “December is always is a fairly solid month for us and it really picked up in the second half.”
The shop’s bestselling item was the hex bug, a robotic toy creature.
At Boots in Bell Street, the heavily discounted “star gifts” sold out on several occasions.
Manager Julie Bricknall said: “They did really well this year but predominately it was indulgent bathing, the No 7 range and our Christmas three-for-two offer which did best.
“We are quite a small store but people have taken advantage of the fact they can order items in because they don’t want to pay to park in Reading.”
Kirsty Crane, sales and online manager of Boatique in Hart Street, which opened in February, said: “Most of our customers said they wanted to buy from local shops rather than chains.
“It’s our first Christmas and we weren’t really sure how it was going to go, so we are very pleased.”
Laurence Morris, owner of Laurence Menswear in Duke Street, which opened in March, said: “December was pretty good and for a first year, I certainly wasn’t disappointed.”
Sheila Clark, owner of Sparkes Jewellers in Reading Road, said: “It was okay for us, possibly slightly better than last year, but the weather did dampen things.”
Hilary Redhead, who works at the Bell Bookshop, said sales picked up towards the end of December. We haven’t done the figures yet but we think it was probably about the same as last year,” she said.
“Cookery books always sell well, particularly Jamie Oliver, and the Ottolenghi book did well. ”
But James Miller, owner of Henley Cycles in Reading Road, said he had found business slow for the second consecutive year.
“Christmas didn’t really happen for us,” he said.
“I am trying to be positive but I knew 2012 was going to be slow and it was. The major problem for us was that spring and summer should be when we are chocka but the weather was awful, so we were already behind in the run-up to Christmas.”