Worksop's business owners urge people to shop local this Christmas and help the high street thrive
Business leaders and owners in Worksop are calling on shoppers to reclaim the high street and support local this Christmas.
The final few weeks before Christmas are the most profitable time of year in retail, with many local shops relying on the income generated in the ‘golden quarter’ to keep them afloat.
Last year saw all non-essential retailers close for the second time in November before reopening for a few weeks over the festive period as the Government attempted to curb rising cases of coronavirus.
According to the Centre for Retail Research, online shopping in the UK at Christmas increased by more than 56 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.
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The Worksop Christmas lights switch-on last month marked the beginning of this year’s festivities.
Footfall data from North Notts BID revealed more than 10,000 people visited the event.
Its chief executive Sally Gillborn said: “It was great to see the town centre so busy with lots of happy faces as people were getting into the Christmas spirit.
“It is more important now than ever to support our local businesses by shopping, eating and drinking locally this festive season.”
The increased footfall saw a boost for many, with one business, Grafton Fine Ales microbrewery, selling all its stock of cask beer in just one day.
Susan Hale, who owns Grafton Fine Ales, said: “I brewed for 22 months and we sold out of all the beer in a day to all our customers.
“It's nice that people came out and supported local businesses, and I hope it carries on in the future with future events.”
Susan is also the owner of the Malt House tapas restaurant on Potter Street. “What you don't think of is all the businesses up here are hospitality businesses, and we've been hit so hard in the past 22 months.
“Everybody I speak to who has got a hospitality business in the town are saying it's going to be a big hill to climb, and whether we get back to pre-pandemic levels is another matter.
“I think it's devastated the town to be quite honest. It's a situation that every week, you just don't know what you're going to be facing.
“It's been very difficult, but we will get there. We’ve just got to stick together and keep supporting local businesses as much as we can."
This weekend will see the return of Small Business Saturday, on December 4, the UK’s most successful small business campaign.
Self-employed Helen Parry, owner of Carlton House on Carlton Road, a unique vintage arts and crafts centre, has been invited to take part in the campaign.
For Helen, despite her background in managing businesses, she described closing the centre down as taking a “leap of faith” as the pandemic hit.
She said: “I took the responsibility of what was going to happen next completely on my shoulders.
"It has been very mentally and physically challenging.
“What I've really acknowledged and appreciated, is genuinely how loyal and supportive our customer base is.
“In some ways, I feel like we've come back better and stronger than we were before, because if anybody had taken us for granted, the pandemic opened everybody's eyes back up to what they had on their own doorstep in their own local area.
“What we offer as an independent business is a different level of customer service that you're not going to get obviously when shopping in a department store or a supermarket.”
Philip Jackson, chair of Worksop Business Forum, said: “We realise that town centres are changing so we have several events planned for next year to help bring people into Worksop which in turn brings people into the shops and businesses.
“The Stocking filler market is our next event on December 22 and is another opportunity to visit Worksop’s independent businesses.”
Until Sunday, January 2, Bassetlaw District Council has made its car parks free from 2pm.