Jingle tills! City independents gearing up for HUGE Christmas shopping spree
- Credit: Denise Bradley
Shops across Norwich are bracing themselves for a mammoth spending spree heading their way in the next month.
With Christmas less than a month away and shopper's appetite continuing to grow for locally-sourced products and services, the city's independent sector is predicting this December may be one of the biggest on record.
The tills are already jingling in the build up to December 25 with several business owners already seeing profits fly after a bumpy 18 months of lockdown.
Daisy Kingham, head of marketing for Lisa Angel, which has stores in the city centre as well as selling online, said: "It has been a busy week for us both on and offline. We have seen more people coming into our shops than expected. Everyone seems to be in a positive Christmas spirit."
The business, which has a store in Lower Goat Lane and Chantry Place, sells jewellery, personalised gifts and homeware items.
Ms Kingham believed national attention aimed at the Fine City's independent reputation was also pulling shoppers from far and wide.
She explained: "We have always done things differently here. Norwich is an eclectic place.
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"Independent businesses here are good at championing each other. It has a real village community with a close-knit loyalty. It makes people who want to open businesses feel confident they will get support. We are very lucky."
David Hanton, owner of fashion store Mod One in Pottergate, is also seeing no lack of footfall despite big brands raking in customers with events like Black Friday.
The founder of the shop, which has traded for a decade, said: "Since we reopened in April, trade has been pretty good.
"And now people are starting to Christmas shop - the three Saturdays in November so far were extremely busy. We're feeling upbeat.
"There seems to be a good buzz in the city centre even though Covid is still around. People are less scared to go out and want to enjoy themselves. Some have accrued money in the lockdown that they want to spend on home improvements, weekends or clothes."
He added that indies offered friendlier environments which created a nicer shopping experience for people - an advantage over their behemoth neighbours on the high street.
"Norwich's little lanes are better suited to smaller stores rather than the big stores. If indies were not in our cities you would end up with no high street," said the owner.
Across the road, in Norfolk Yarn, owner Rebecca Bone said her business was boosted by visitors to the city adding trade was "ticking over well".
She said: "People understand that indies are more than just shops. They are a community."
Ms Bone thought Norwich's offerings were much better than other towns and cities.
Sales were also strong in women's fashion boutique, Butterfly, in White Lion Street - off the historic Market Place.
Natasha Cox, who co-owns the business with her husband David, said: "The trade has been steady. Everyone has been very encouraging and we have had a lot saying, 'We are glad to see you are still here'. People were worried independents would go under.
"We work very hard and when things are slower we work harder to turn it around."
She said the past two weekends had been busy and a lot of people were buying outfits for Christmas parties, which were cancelled last year.
And the return of the Thursford Christmas Spectacular was also bringing in a lot of custom with people buying clothes for the festive bonanza.
Mrs Cox added Christmas was vey important as its sales carried the business through quieter months in the new year.
Leanne Fridd, co-owner of book shop Bookbugs and Dragon Tales in Timber Hill, said business was "not quite right" yet as some people remained tentative about returning to big crowds.
But its experience events were popular, including craft sessions and children's activities.
Mrs Fridd added: "We are here because our customers are amazing. In lockdown people became aware of indies because they were going the extra mile for people."
Are shoppers returning?
According to retail experts Britain's spending spree is going to be one of the highest on record this year.
With Black Friday sales beginning this week and trailing into next, Nationwide predicted that the event would be the biggest retail event ever.
The bank said spending would spike 32pc higher than pre-pandemic peak following a 2020 dip.
Its members were predicted to spend £251,000 per minute on Black Friday.
Mark Nalder, head of payments at Nationwide, said: “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.
"However, with our research suggesting more than two in five spend money each month on things they don’t need, we would always recommend people properly plan their shopping and seek out offers that provide real value for money.”
Why is it so important to spend locally?
After a rocky period with some shoppers still resistant to come back, it has never been so important to shop local.
According to smallbusiness.co.uk for every £10 spent in the local economy an accumulative effect sees £50 reinvested into the nearby businesses and employees.
This is simply because the shop owners will then 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.
These small firms also do not have the deep pockets of parent firms and historic bank balances to fall back on with many founders having their livelihoods on the line.