Retailers buoyed by strong sales in wintry run up to Christmas

The harsh winter weather seems to have done little harm to shops in Lerwick, with most proprietors stating they had one of their busiest periods in the run up to Christmas.

Weather disruptions south may in fact have helped local sales, with postal disruptions meaning many local shoppers decided to shop locally rather than risk goods not being delivered in time.

Food outlets traditionally do well at this time of year, with both Tesco and the Co-op reporting good sales throughout the period.

At specialist food shop Scoop Wholefoods, the run up to Christmas was “pretty much the same” as other years.

Manager Ann Johnson said: “When the worst of the snow hit it was quite quiet but it’s been quite good. The Christmas hampers sold well, and a lot of folk picked their own ingredients as a personal gift to the person.”

At the supermarkets, folk flocked daily to stock their cupboards and fridges with festive fare. Tesco manager Paul Clelland said that the store had been “fantastically busy” throughout the period.

He said: “It was well ahead of expectations; we’ve had a fantastically busy Christmas period. It was constant all through December and last week was our peak week.”

Mr Clelland said there were high sales across the board, with home entertainment products such as games, DVDs, and children’s toys all selling particularly well and boosted by a “bumper food sale”.

The store experienced a power cut caused by a power surge on Boxing Day, meaning it could not open until 1pm on Monday. However “very loyal” staff agreed to work late until 10pm rather than 6pm as planned, to make up the hours. The shop is “very successful for the size of catchment”, he added.

A spokesman for The Co-op said: “Disruption caused by the weather meant it was a challenging run-up to Christmas, but we worked hard to ensure we were ready for the festive period. Sales at our Lerwick store exceeded our expectations and it was very busy, with fresh food and traditional Christmas treats proving particularly popular, along with our deals on a range party foods.”

Meanwhile shops on the street reported steady and sometimes hectic sales, particularly in the week prior to Christmas.

At the chemist Boots, manager Eleanor Eunson said they had had an “exceptionally” busy period in the week before Christmas, with sales being “excellent”.

Ms Eunson said the store had coped well with shoppers’ demands despite the challenge of keeping the store stocked.

She said: “The weather definitely had an effect, with the last week in particular being exceptional busy, but we managed to keep pace with the demand and I think most of our customers were satisfied.”

The unseasonally early advent of snow had affected clothes shoppers too. Smiths of Lerwick owner Laurence Smith said: “Although it has been a reasonable trading period, the snowy conditions made it difficult particularly for those living in the country and isles to travel to town. However we look forward to seeing them all in the New Year.”

And at Cee & Jays there were bumper sales of hats and gloves as the snow gave people gift ideas. Owner Michael Laurenson said that due to the weather “we were either dead quiet or very busy”, with the shop selling out of welly boots several times. After a quiet start, the run-up to Christmas eventually turned out better than he had expected.

Clive’s Record Shop said sales had been “in line with expectations”, and at Westside Pine, owner Janet Davidge said overall she felt it was much the same as previous years, although the flow was much more steady.

“It’s been busy the whole time, it’s been fairly steady. Usually you might have had a few hours during the day when it’s been dead then a rush at night, but this year it was constant.” She said traditional Christmas fare such as decorations, holly and mistletoe had all sold well.

Meanwhile folk were splashing out on items from the Camera Centre, where proprietor Cecil Hughson reported this year’s run-up to Christmas as being “one of the best ever”.

The snow had prevented deliveries of some items, however, and stocks were running low. “We couldn’t get enough Kodak printers and Kodak cameras, we sold hundreds,” he said.

The most popular items had been cameras in the £100 range, he said, which had come down in price after being around £150 last year. These were followed by cameras in the £200 price range. Phones, personalised photo calendars, photo frames and canvas prints had also been flying out of the shop. “We were absolutely rushed off our feet, it was brilliant,” he said.

Monty’s Bistro too had a successful season. “Our Christmas starts with parties in the middle of November so we’re lucky,” owner Raymond Smith said. Although there were cancellations caused by the snow, people who phoned up on the off-chance were able to be accommodated, he said, making the pre-Christmas period “very good”. And although boat cancellations meant there had been a problem getting produce, customers would not have noticed, he said.

The snow proved a bonus for J B’s Autostore, however, with “snow-related” sales of battery chargers and battery de-icers soaring. A company spokesman said: “We had a very busy Christmas – folk were buying motoring gifts to keep each other on the road.”

And J K Mainland’s butchers reported a very busy period, “busier than last year”, which had been their first year of trading. A spokesman said: “The staff worked very long hours to get the orders out.” The shop sells as much local produce as possible, he said, with all the pork, lamb, reestit mutton and most of the beef coming from Shetland. The only meat ordered in any quantity from south was turkey.


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