Boost for the street as shoppers stay local

Town centre shops have reported booming business over the festive period, with many saying sales were up on the same time last year with more people buying locally.

The Camera Centre owner Ben Mullay said it had been a “great” Christmas period with an “unprecedented” demand for iPads and GoPro action cameras, which come in an underwater housing and can be clamped onto a helmet, a bike – or a remote control aeroplane.

And, he said, the shop started getting busier a lot earlier: “Normally the 23rd and 24th December are the busiest.”

Instead, he said, the shop had been busy all month, something which he feels is partly due to Living Lerwick’s Winter Festival increasing footfall to the town centre and raising awareness of what was in the shops. “There were a lot of things like live music which drew people to the area, there was a good buzz.”

And, in addition: “A lot of people were really trying to shop locally,” a trend that he hopes will continue all year.

The increase in local support was noticed by clothes shop Smith & Robertson, where Edna Irvine reported a busy and successful festive season, with a Cornish range called Seasalt made from mostly organic cotton selling well. She pointed out that the shop sells the items at the same price as online, which has encouraged people to shop locally – with the added bonus that they can try their prospective purchases on.

Mrs Irvine said: “People have said [to me] that buying locally really matters, and their decision counts. If they buy a pint of [local] milk they think they’re buying it just from them, but collectively it matters. It makes such a difference and the shopkeepers appreciate it.”

Harry’s Department Store also reported a “really busy” festive period, ending a “really good year”. He agreed that Living Lerwick’s efforts had got more of the public shopping locally, and “the whole street has done well”. The people on the barges had helped boost sales, he added, and the shop’s website had done well. Althogether business had been “brilliant”.

Westside Pine had also enjoyed a successful period. Owner Janet Davidge said: “It was busy all month, even Christmas Eve, which is sometimes quiet. It was as good if not better than last year.”

She hoped the Winter Festival had made a difference by bringing people to the town centre, and said the firework display had been “amazing”. And, she added: “I was pleased that people were shopping locally, a lot of people were saying they were making a conscious decision to do that. It’s nice they’re becoming aware they could lose what they have.”

More business owners explain why they think it was a successful festive period in Friday’s Shetland Times.

Santa launches the Living Lerwick Winter Festival at the street parade last month. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Events organised by Living Lerwick, including the Santa parade, as part of the Winter Festival helped boost business on Commercial Street, traders say. Photo: Dave Donaldson

About Rosalind Griffiths

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