Worksop: Wet weather puts dampner on festive sales

The wet weather but a dampner on sales in Worksop over the Christmas period
The wet weather but a dampner on sales in Worksop over the Christmas period

Traders and shoppers in Worksop have blamed unusually wet weather and online shopping for a “sales slump” in the town over the festive period.

Rain and high winds battered the town in December, leading to a decrease in footfall and market cancellations.

Wanting to stay warm, many residents chose to stay indoors and scout for Christmas bargains online.

Philip Jackson, chairman of Worksop Business Forum, said: “Sales around Christmas got off to a slow but steady start in Worksop.

“We had a surge on Black Friday, which is when the majority of shoppers came into town to do their spending, but it was slow after that in the lead -up to Christmas.”

Tactics to entice shoppers into the town included the launch of free wi-fi in the town centre, which was installed in November.

A free parking scheme by Bassetlaw District Council was also introduced, which saw shoppers able to park in council-owned car parks free of charge until 2pm for four weeks.

Councillor June Evans, council cabinet member for finance, said the parking scheme had been a “success”.

She said: “Christmas is always a special time for Worksop town centre, and we are glad the free parking has gone down so well with residents and businesses.

“We have already had positive feedback from the Worksop Business Forum.

“The forum has said the initiative attracted people to shop locally and contributed to a successful trading period.”

Mr Jackson said: “Sales might not have been an improvement on last years’, but free parking in particular has certainly helped.

“We found that when free parking was in place, visitors were staying in Worksop well into the afternoon and evening to finish their shopping.

“We are definitely hoping to repeat the free parking scheme next year, as it did prove popular.

“Plans for next Christmas are already being drawn up.”

Worksop’s Christmas lights, which will cost the council £26,000 over five years, also attracted thousands of visitors into Worksop in November for the “big switch on” event and festive market.

But in December, which was the wettest on record, many chose to stay at home and do their shopping online.

Worksop resident David Nelson, aged 71, said: “The problem is the younger generation are obsessed with sitting at home and on their computers. I don’t have a computer or the facilities to buy off the internet, so I have to actually go out onto the high street and venture into the shops.

“I’d encourage people to go out into Worksop and look at items or try them before they spend their money on them.

“It’s a nicer experience and you’ll be helping businesses at the same time.”

Market traders in Worksop agreed the unusually wet weather in particular had made trading “difficult” for them with sales down on last year’s festive period.

Joanne Harrop, who operates a hairpiece stall, said: “I’ve had a nice Christmas on the stall this year, but I have to say we didn’t do as well as last December, mostly due to fact it has been storming it down.

“A lot of us have been on the stalls in Worksop for years and are used to and are equipped to trade when temperatures drop below freezing, as is the norm, but when it rains heavily and it is windy, it’s a different story as stock can get ruined.

“But we find the people of Worksop still support the market, and are hoping for a drier Christmas next year.”

However, Barry Jackson, forum vice-chairman and owner of Bridge Place clothing store Cockney Rebel, enjoyed good sales at Christmas and is keen to spread some positivity.

He said: “Worksop is a super town with wonderful people, and it has serious potential to thrive.

“There’s no point moaning about the bad weather.

“A customer out walking in the rain is still a customer.

“It’s true that when you look out of the window, you will see a few empty shops, but this is a national thing and high streets are struggling everywhere.

“It’s all about businesses working together and with our Business Forum to make Worksop the best it can be.

“I am looking forward towelcoming new businesses into our brilliant little town in 2016.”