TRADING in Seaford is hard-going and the town has ‘gone to sleep’, according to the town’s business people.
As the summer holiday season gets underway one retailer said business is poor, another said supermarkets are killing the town and the Seaford Chamber of Commerce said it was concerned about vacant shops in the area.
However, the manager of one store said it was ‘not all doom and gloom’ and another said they couldn’t understand why there were empty units in the town.
Andy Bates, who has worked at butchers C Walbrin & Sons for 11 years, said he believed the internet was partly the reason for declining trade, adding, “There used to be four of us working here and now there’s me, a part-time man and Chris the owner.
“Supermarkets are killing small businesses.
“You can go to Tesco with a camera and they show you how to download it and I think they are doing accounting now.”
Chris Walbrin, who owns the butchers and set up the fruit and veg shop next door two years ago, added, “Seaford has just gone to sleep.
“If people don’t support local shops, there’s going to be none left. If everyone spent 25p in one shop a day that would help.”
He also criticised the parking in the area but did say it was a bonus it was free.
However, Janet Hamill, manager of Just For You Ladies Lingerie, said she thought the free parking system of two hours in nearby roads was fine as it was, “It’s normally a bit quiet when the children are on holiday.
“We’re happy with our lot and don’t think it’s all doom and gloom. People park outside the shop here and they can come and go and it turns around very quickly.”
There are currently several vacant shops in the town including Seaford Camera
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Centre in Broad Street along with Living Words in Place Lane, which closed its doors earlier this year.
Sharon Elliott, manager of gift shop Natures Nectar, said her landlord was very fair but not everyone was so lucky and referring to trade, added, “It’s just very poor in general. You don’t see the landlords putting the prices down and that’s not helping.
“There’s not many people out and about.
“It’s the summer holidays and residents have gone away and it fills up with German and Spanish people, even they’re not spending.
“It does really well at Christmas, Father Day’s and Mother’s Day and we are supported which is nice but there’s only so many pennies to go round.
“It’s hard going.”
A spokesman for M & Co said, “It’s a busy town and I don’t know why the shops aren’t full in the high street and there are empty units.
“I don’t know why they aren’t being used by other retailers.
“I do think there is more potential for Seaford in the high street.”
A spokesman for Tesco added, “We are proud to invest in high streets. In our experience, Tesco Express stores draw customers to an area. Other businesses that provide good value and service to customers can benefit from the additional trade our stores attract.”
Joe Fackler, treasurer of the Seaford Chamber of Commerce, said, “I would say despite there being some empty shops we have had new businesses coming into Seaford.
“The biggest hole was left by Woolworths and that was filled by M & Co. I don’t know why these other shops are not going.
“It’s a worry but hopefully trade will begin to come back to Seaford.
“We have discussed this at a recent Chamber meeting and there is concern amongst the Chamber that these shops are vacant.”