How are city centre indies coping with the spike in costs?

Helen Parker, owner of The Giggly Goat in Lower Goat Lane 

Helen Parker, owner of The Giggly Goat in Lower Goat Lane - Credit: Ben Hardy

Independent shops in the city centre are determined to keep serving their loyal customer bases amid soaring prices and the cost of living crisis.

While market stall holders in Norwich have been hit with an 8.3pc rent increase, small businesses are having to manage overheads and increasing energy bills.

Helen Parker, owner of The Giggly Goat, in Lower Goat Lane, has noticed the costs of shipping, raw materials and postage have been rising.

She said: "The costs for our makers are increasing as are utilities so of course, the margins for making a profit become tighter.'

"A shop like this is not essential. It's a luxury to have disposable income especially now. We do know that our customers enjoy browsing just as much as purchasing because of the shop's calming environment.

"At the moment, trade is steady with our regular customers as well as the return of tourists.'' 

Many of the shops in Lower Goat Lane do not pay business rates due to the size of them after the government introduced new rules. 

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Alfie Adams, manager at lifestyle store Elm, said: "Energy bills have definitely gone up but it's almost still impossible to tell what impact this will have in the long-run.

Inside the Elm shop in Lower Goat Lane 

Inside the Elm shop in Lower Goat Lane - Credit: Ben Hardy

"What else can we do if bills and rates go up? You have to grin and bear it. We won't be kicking up a fuss but the council do what they want.

"We received lots of support during Covid so the council does not really owe us anything now."

Hollie Woodham, manager of Nova Silver in Lower Goat Lane, is another independent trying to focus on the benefits of more tourists visiting the city this summer to help trade despite the cost of living.

She said: "Business has been good over the last few weeks. We are starting to see a summer boost. We have noticed people are a lot more willing to explore and do not want to see the same things they can see in any other cities." 

Hollie Woodham, manager of Nova Silver in Lower Goat Lane

Hollie Woodham, manager of Nova Silver in Lower Goat Lane - Credit: Ben Hardy

A staff member at the Imelda's Shoe Boutique in Guildhall Hill said: "If business rates and costs do go up you need to think more carefully about what you stock and buying stock that has a better profit margin."

Business rates are set by the Valuation Office Agency and the city council is the billing authority.