Sales figures rise despite reports of tougher times

BUSINESSES in Eastbourne are busy this Christmas despite reports in the national press that people are tightening their belts.

Tills are ringing across the town and last week’s sales figures have shot up in many cases, because 2010’s heavy snow had a chilling effect on many shops this time last year.

Bill Plumridge, Arndale Centre manager, said, “When we look at last week a year ago we had heavy snow, so most businesses last week had a bumper week.

“Footfall is strong and we are hoping for a good couple of weeks here in the town centre.

“I think Eastbourne is quite resilient to the national picture and I think as a town we perform above average.

“There is a positive atmosphere in the town and although we are bombarded with online shopping, people still like to come to a town centre where they can try things on and see the products before they buy.

“It is a risk when you buy online because you hope the items come in time – my answer to that is come and shop in the town centre.”

The town’s independent shops say the Christmas shopping period has got off to a good start.

Lucy Rigby, owner of The Banana Tree in Grove Road, said, “It is quite scary and I was a bit apprehensive because you never know with Christmas, especially in recent years, but I am pleased to say that we have been busy.”

Ms Rigby said the national news painted a gloomy picture which was unhelpful to traders.

She added, “Things are quite positive here and we hope it will continue.”

Tracey Barnett, owner of About Poppies in South Street, said, “Things are busy at the moment with lots of orders coming in for Christmas.

“We are doing better than last year but that is partly to do with the heavy snow in 2010.”

About Poppies is hoping to see more customers at tonight’s Little Christmas event.

Michael Kearton, owner of M Jewellers, said November’s takings were almost double last year’s and explained business was buoyant following a quieter Christmas last year.

And The New Wilmington Hotel also told the Herald they had enjoyed busy turkey and tinsel events this year.

Jon Lacurie, duty manager at the hotel, said the hotel had been around 80 per cent booked for all the Christmas themed breaks.