Norwich's gift trade is booming

Kim BriscoeFor many industries 2009 will go down as a poor year, but for Norfolk's gift and souvenir trade sales were booming thanks to the popularity of the 'staycation' and some good weather.Kim Briscoe

For many industries 2009 will go down as a poor year, but for Norfolk's gift and souvenir trade sales were booming thanks to the popularity of the 'staycation' and some good weather.

This week producers of souvenirs and gift shop owners converged on St Andrew's Hall for the East Anglian Gift Fair, which gives shops the chance to stock up on new ranges ahead of the summer.

Nick Guyton, who organises the fair and also runs Horsford-based Norfolk China, said: '2009 was an amazing year. We have had our best ever year and were 15pc up on the year before.

'Speaking to other companies it doesn't appear anyone has had a bad year. British holidaymakers stayed at home because of the Euro and it was a good year with weather, and we had good Bank Holidays which are critical for us.'

Mr Guyton said a range of seaside mugs, drawn by Wells-based artist Hazel Ashley, had proved very popular and 28,000 had been sold, and he ran out of stock last July.

Also popular are a range of goods inspired by the street paintings of graffiti artist Banksy.

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He added: 'I think many people are looking for the nostalgic and traditional gifts now as well and anything retro is doing very well.'

Michael Hobbs, whose grandfather David started up D S Hobbs & Son, which is based in Foulsham, said: 'Last year was very, very good and our sales were up a considerable amount.

'We had the cream of the weather in East Anglia and hopefully people were well looked after and will come back again this year.

'The 'staycation' also meant people stayed in Britain because of the economic climate.'

Mr Hobbs said he was preparing for a tougher year during 2010, but hopes their latest range in cuddly meerkats, made popular by the Compare the Market television adverts featuring a talking meerkat, will prove a best seller.

Andrew Johnson, who runs Johnson's Gift Shop which was started by his father and has been in Hunstanton for nearly 50 years, said: 'We had the best year we have had in the last six years.

'It was excellent, due to the weather and we had good Bank Holidays.

'The weather is key because on a bad Bank Holiday you can take just 10pc of what you could on a good Bank Holiday.'

The Gift House, which is based in Admiralty Road, Great Yarmouth, specialises in ranges of named and personalised products, supplying companies such as Butlins, Haven and Alton Towers.

Martin Cordingley, of the Gift House, said their personalised miniature rubber ducks had been very popular in 2009 and he expected them to remain so in 2010.

He said: 'It was quite buoyant really. We were surprised because the forecast and general feeling was that it was going to be a poor year, but in this sector we did well.

'It must be that people stayed at home. Visitor attractions were attracting people in greater numbers and we supply them with our products and saw our sales go up too.'

The Evening News launched its Do Different, Do Norfolk campaign to encourage families in the county to make the most of the attractions on their doorstep.

Do you have a quirky store for the Evening News? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email