Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Warm winter boosts sales

SHOPKEEPERS in Henley say the mild winter weather is boosting their trade.

SHOPKEEPERS in Henley say the mild winter weather is boosting their trade.

Some traders report that sales in the run-up to Christmas were up by as much as 50 per cent compared with the previous year.

Gillian Nahum, who owns nautical gift shop Boatique in Friday Street, said: “The Saturday before Christmas was probably our busiest day ever.

“The weather was warm so we had our door open all day and the footfall in Friday Street felt like the centre of town. There was a fantastic atmosphere.

“The Living Advent Calendar event in the street on the night of the Christmas Festival made people discover Friday Street.

“Since then people have come in and said they didn’t realise there were shops here.

“The weather plays a big part in local shopping all-year round, not just at Christmas. If it’s cold or wet people want to be inside in malls so milder weather encourages people to shop in Henley.” Laurence Morris, owner of Laurence Menswear in Duke Street, said: “The milder weather meant products like scarves and knitwear were selling very slowly but fortunately people were buying other products.

“It has been better then previous years. I have not looked at exact comparisons for Christmas but I am certainly going to be 10 per cent up on last year.

“I’m really pleased because early December was extremely quiet and so was November. People were obviously leaving it a bit later, which is always concerning but you have to keep your fingers crossed.”

Lorraine Hillier, who owns the Upstairs, Downstairs tea room in Duke Street and Hot Gossip coffee house in Friday Street as well as being Mayor, said the town was busy with shoppers before Christmas but people didn’t necessarily have time to sit down for a cuppa, although the retail part of the tea room did well.

However, her businesses were “phenomenally busy” on bank holiday Monday this week as the weather was good.

Hilary Redhead, manager of the Bell Bookshop in Bell Street, said: “Before Christmas in the town was really good.

“We think we may have done slightly better than last year. I haven’t got round to doing any figures but it’s looking promising.”

Joan Bland, owner of Asquiths Teddy Bear Shop, on the corner of Bell Street and New Street, said her sales were up in the run-up to  Christmas and the shop had been busy afterwards too.

She said she hadn’t planned to open on Boxing Day but had to because people were wanting to shop.

“People need teddy bears, they are one of the essentials of life,” said Ms Bland. “Now we go into three months of lean business in January, February and March so you take the business while you can.”

Nicholas Carlton, manager of Bagatelle Toys in Bell Street, said sales were slightly down on last year but he was pleased nonetheless.

He said: “I would say it was a very reasonable Christmas. We’re the only toy shop in Henley so we’re quite lucky in that respect, but we’re up against online retailers like Amazon now. Each year online retailers get more and more powerful.

“People don’t use online as much in the week before Christmas because they worry it won’t come in time so that was unbelievably busy for us.”

Hannah Ward, who runs Central Home in Reading Road with her husband Steve, said: “We didn’t have any huge expectations because it’s our first year here so we have nothing to compare it with but it was pretty good.

“We were busy for two weeks solid in the run-up to Christmas. I think the weather meant people were prepared to walk in the streets rather than going to a shopping centre.”

Andrew Tucker, who runs the In the Groove record shop in Reading Road, said: “The first two weeks of December were a bit funny and quite quiet but the rest of the month was really busy.

“At the special Sunday shopping day it was very quiet because the weather was miserable. If it had been nicer that might have made that day better.

“As a generalisation, when the weather is better shopping is better but I have had really busy days when it has been cold and miserable.”

Venetia Anderson, manager of the Barbara Easton boutique in Duke Street, said her trade had been “sporadic” in the run-up to Christmas.

She added: “I think it would have been a good idea to have more free parking days.”

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