Sidmouth shopping challenge boosts Christmas trade

Fields department store of Sidmouth. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 1374-36-11AW. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on myphotos24 Fields department store of Sidmouth. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 1374-36-11AW. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on myphotos24

Saturday, January 11, 2014
1:00 PM

Independent retailers have praised a challenge for bringing shoppers to Sidmouth – and said it made all the difference in a difficult period.

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The competition captured the imagination of visitors from as far afield as Hampshire, who were keen to collect prizes from across the town.

Organisers welcomed the increased footfall as online shopping increases in popularity and hope to prove to the town council the difference it has made.

Claire Jenkins, who organised the challenge and is the promotions and marketing manager at Fields, said: “If people don’t support their local shops, they won’t have a town centre – Sidmouth isn’t just for Christmas.

“Not every business took part, but the benefits were felt across the town – it’s all about the community.”

Putting it all together over four weeks and wanting to be a success limited the inaugural event’s size, but Claire wants to repeat the challenge this year and make it bigger and better.

The participating businesses are meeting later this month to try to quantify the effect the challenge had and to attempt to team up with the town council next time.

Robert Gliddon, of Gliddons Toys, said: “The Christmas trade was disappointing – without the challenge it would have been even worse.”

He welcomed the extra footfall, saying that the toy trade is particularly vulnerable to being treated as a ‘viewing gallery’ for online sales.

“We aren’t going to be here for much longer if this continues – people don’t realise we’re often cheaper than the internet,” he said.

“I’ll definitely take part again – and I hope it helps change people’s shopping habits.”

Sarah Sherman took part with her daughter Ella, 10, who she said was really excited by the challenge.

She lives in Hampshire, where she said there are very few independent shops, so the challenge encouraged her to see what Sidmouth has to offer – and to help her part with more cash.

Did you take part in the challenge? Has it changed your shopping habits? Send your thoughts to sidmouth.letters@archant.co.uk.

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