Battle on to win more shoppers in Ottery

PLANS to attract thousands of extra shoppers in to the centre of Ottery St Mary have been welcomed by business owners - but they say more needs to be done.

Although the results of a recent chamber of commerce survey show the outlook is ‘generally good’, many businesses are concerned about a lack of customers.

Now Ottery council plans to erect a sign above Tar Lane in a bid to encourage shoppers from Sainsbury’s further into town, but traders say it is not enough.

Ros Browne, owner of Roberts in Broad Street, said her shop had seen a 30 per cent drop in footfall since the supermarket opened and that a lack of customers had been a constant problem.

The manager at the Crusty Cobb bakery, Mandy Snow, said: “Although it might have brought more people into town, I think most of them just do their shopping in Sainsbury’s and leave.

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“I don’t think some people realise Sainsbury’s is a public car park and you have two hours to wander into town.”

Steve Bealey, owner of Country Farm Butchers, agreed: “There was talk it would bring more shoppers into town but I haven’t seen it. People park there, load their cars up and then go home.

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“It definitely had an effect on my business, but it hasn’t been devastating - we’re just getting on with it.”

“And credit to my regular customers – they’ve stuck by us when they could have easily switched to Sainsbury’s.”

But as the supermarket chain celebrates two years in town, fears that it would kill trade to local businesses appear to be largely unfounded.

Chamber of commerce chairman Phil Henderson said that results from the latest survey, which took feedback from 32 businesses in Ottery, were the most positive in two years.

He added: “It is a testament to the resilience of businesses in town that they are thriving in the current economy.”

Mayor Glyn Dobson said that, despite the initial objections, he felt the arrival of the supermarket chain had been a positive thing for the town.

He added: “I think a lot of people have changed their attitude since it opened.

“Some shops have closed and changed hands over the past two years, but I think there were three vacant when Sainsbury’s came and there are probably three now.

“We have already put a sign up in the car park directing people to the shops, and we are planning to put a larger one over the entrance to Tar Lane.”

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