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Christmas shoppers bring festive cheer to Norwich retailers

PUBLISHED: 07:00 23 December 2014

Stefan Gurney from the Norwich BID team.
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Stefan Gurney from the Norwich BID team. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

It isn’t just Santa’s sleigh bells that are ringing in Norwich this Christmas, as shops around the city said their cash registers are also enjoying a busy festive season.

The city appears to be bucking a national tend that has seen high street sales fall an estimate 3.9pc, with local shops big and small reporting encouraging news.

The early sales figures have raised hopes that retailers may be starting to see customers loosen the purse strings after years of austerity.

Stefan Gurney, executive director of the Norwich Business Improvement District (Bid), said: “We have been talking to a lot of the different retailers, from the big shopping centres to the independent stores to the large multinationals, and all of them are telling us that it’s a good Christmas so far.

“Sales across the piece seem to be up around 5pc, so it’s a really good story for Norwich this year.”

Asked about footfall, he said: “We are showing an increase year-on-year of 3.5pc for Norwich city centre, and that’s against a national picture which is showing a decline of 3.9pc, so Norwich is over 7pc up on the national figure so it’s showing that Norwich is really faring very well at this time of year.

“We think it’s that people are now seeing that the austerity measures are slightly over, people are now buying things they want rather than what they can afford, and now they are looking at presents and seeing now there is a little more money in the pocket and therefore we can loosen the purse strings a bit this year and get some of the presents they have not been able to afford over the last few years.”

He said the Bid had worked hard to promote Norwich as a destination - and not just for shopping.

Mr Gurney said it had invested over £100,000 in the Christmas lights over three years and sent out more than 200,000 Norwich Christmas magazines, while hosts on the streets and a mobile phone app, were all helping to spread the message that Norwich is a great place over Christmas.

He said the city was not just about retail and shopping, but also about eating and drinking, so people can spend some nice time with friends and family over the Christmas period.

Henry Layte, the owner of The Bookhive bookshop in London Street said that, compared to the last few years when people were ultra-careful with their money, things are starting to change this year.

What do you think? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, Norwich Evening News, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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