Jingle tills! City traders report bumper sales as Christmas kicks off

People shopping on Black Friday at Gentleman's Walk in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden

People shopping on Black Friday at Gentleman's Walk in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Archant 2021

The city's independent shops have reported their biggest weekend for years after festive shoppers hit the high street.

The first real weekend of Christmas shopping spelled a bump in profits for many of Norwich's independent businesses.

Building society Nationwide predicted that this Black Friday weekend would be the biggest retail event ever - with a projected spending spike of 32pc compared to the pre-pandemic peak. 

And that proved to be the case for many indies in Norwich.

Connie Reed at Lisa Angel store on Lower Goat Lane

Connie Reed, a staff member at Lisa Angel on Lower Goat Lane - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

Lisa Angel, which has stores in Lower Goat Lane and Chantry Place, sells jewellery, gifts, homeware and dried flowers.

Daisy Kingham, head of marketing, said: "This weekend definitely matched the expectations we had, we were delighted with the footfall, especially at our Lower Goat Lane store.

"The road is a hub of independent businesses. People were keen to see the offers but were also wanting to support a local business.

"This year has been different though, in that the purchases have been more spread out throughout the week, rather than concentrated on Friday. It's been much more gradual.

"As a gifting company, lots of people do Christmas shopping with us so Black Friday is always a busy time for us.

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"It will be interesting to see if the high footfall continues into Christmas or if it changes with the new Covid restrictions.

"In-store, the big sellers were Christmassy bits - like our hand-painted Norwich bauble and our red and gold dried flower bouquet.

"Online, jewellery was more popular, but that may be due to the personalisation available."

Alan Sabol Owner of St Giles Pantry, St Giles Street Norwich. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

Alan Sabol, owner of St Giles Pantry, St Giles Street Norwich. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Archant

St Giles Pantry is a small store stocking Norfolk seasonal produce, with everything from wine to porridge.

Owner Alan Sabol said: "There's been an uplift in Christmas shoppers over the last few weeks but it's been pretty consistent. 

"People have been buying more of our hampers and Christmas gifts, which has been great to see.

"It's been our busiest week of the year so far, crazy busy every day. But there's not been one day that was busier.

"I couldn't put my finger on our bestseller if you paid me. People just seem to love the fact that it's all local and there's a story behind it. From the jams to the beer to the cheese.

"There's a buzz in the air, people seem to be really looking forward to Christmas and having something to celebrate.

"There seems to be more confidence with shoppers, like this year will be a bit more normal."

Owner Steve Scott preparing to relocate Langleys toy shop to another unit in the Royal Arcade, selli

Langleys owner Steve Scott outside the store in Norwich's Royal Arcade - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Langleys has stores in the Royal Arcade and Chantry Place. The toy store stocks board games, stuffed animals and more.

Chris Golding, manager of the Chantry Place store, said: "It's been extremely busy, busier than ever. It's like we've had a Black November.

"We've sold very, very well. This weekend was the biggest we've had so far, we're constantly refilling the shelves.

"People have been buying Christmas presents a lot earlier than normal, since September. People seem to be pre-empting another lockdown.

"But people do seem to enjoy being in-store, they have fun. It's why we all love working here.

"We're selling huge numbers of Harry Potter and Star Wars Lego and the 25th Anniversary Pokemon. The advent calendars have been really popular."

Mark Nalder, head of payments at Nationwide, added: “With people’s plans for last Christmas derailed and people not being able to see others, many of us understandably want to spend a little more to ensure a really good, fun time with family and friends." 

Supporting local business

It is more important than ever to support local businesses and it benefits the community as a whole when you do.

According to smallbusiness.co.uk, for every £10 spent in the local economy £50 is reinvested into nearby businesses and employees. 

This is because shop owners put that money back into the local community by going into local pubs and restaurants, as well as trading with other nearby companies - circulating the money further.