Seaford traders fight back against recession with good festive period

TRADERS in Seaford have reported a fairly good festive season despite the credit crunch.

A number of businesses have said they had received positive takings in the run up to Christmas and were looking forward to a 'bright New Year'.

Len Vincent, manager of Diellas restaurant, said, "Trade has been excellent up to Christmas, it's been one of our busiest periods and we have had a lot of functions."

Phil Wilkins, manager of the Old Plough, added, "It has been quite a good Christmas and the food has probably done better that the wet-side."

The news is in contrast to last Christmas when traders said they had seen a decrease in takings. In December 2008 Seaford also lost its high street chain Woolworths and a number of other stores across Sussex went into administration.

However, 2009 seems to have brought a slightly better outlook for business with Vic Dowdey, who manages Sweet Moments with wife Karen, stating, "For us we have had double digit figures up on the percentage from last year. Many of the things are popular because our custom base has grown and in knowing what they want.

"It's been a fantastic year and it's something (chocolate and confectionary) people like to fall back on when times are hard."

Andy Bates, manager of butchers C Walbrin and Sons, said, "It wasn't too bad, it wasn't as good as last year but trade was not too bad at all. Turkey and beef were the bestsellers."

Les Ayres, the former owner of Living Words who is currently assisting the owner of the store, added, "We have been encouraged in the run-up to Christmas despite the doom and gloom and are looking forward to a bright New Year. It's been a privilege to serve the Seaford people and surrounding districts, including former customers. The book Bygone Seaford has been selling extremely well in the run up to the New Year and we hope that will continue to boost interest."

Jill Bennison, owner of Sedici, which sells ladies clothes and accessories, said, "Leading up to Christmas it's better that it was than last year.

"The year hasn't been as good as last year but the lead up to Christmas this year has been better than 2008."

Mark Flowers, owner of V R Flowers, added, "The run up to Christmas is always quieter as our merchandise isn't really gift material and tends to tail off to the end of December but back on December 29 we have had buoyant sales and are looking forward to a prosperous New Year."

Tom Burleigh, owner of Redgold opticians, said, "We have been in the town for almost 16 years and have been in Place Lane up until April this year.

"We then moved over to Broad Street and since then have seen a steady increase in business by around 25-30 per cent.

"It's been a combination of things including I think better locations, being more market aware and competitive and we have re-arranged our pricing."

This year the Seaford Chamber of Commerce organised an event called Seaford Means Business which highlighted and showcased the variety and scope of local business and trade services in and around the Seaford area.

Gerri Ori, president of the Seaford Chamber of Commerce and managing director of Brooklyn Motors in Seaford, said other schemes were due to be introduced in 2010 and urged the community to support local shops.

He said his own business had done well particularly due to the scrappage scheme introduced by the Government and added, "The scheme has put quite a lot of cars on the road for us.We have had double sales that we did last year. We have been open between Christmas and the New Year and sold cars and the workshop has been busy."

"We're here to provide a service and that has reaped the benefits for us and notoriously December is not a busy time for us.

Talking of the recession he added, "The people that are here have survived the worst (recession) in living memory and if you survive that it does make you stronger and a more viable business and everybody had to cut the cloth.

"We want to advertise to local people to buy local, that will help everybody in the town as well. If the community support local shops they may have to pay marginally more but get a better after sale service and overall experience.

"In 2010 the chamber is looking to introduce a loyalty scheme where people buying local (at shops that are part of the chamber) get points and this year Seaford Means Business went well.

"There were over 100 leads between them and the chamber increased its membership by 20.

"We have a committee that is working hard for the town and people on the committee are really dedicated and looking at putting in a lot more effort to help the local businesses."