Loyal customers help Ottery traders buck high street trend

Ottery town. Ref sho 10-17TI 8314. Picture: Terry Ife

Ottery town. Ref sho 10-17TI 8314. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Ottery traders are starting 2019 bucking the trend of the high street’s doom and gloom after seeing ‘extremely positive rises’ in sales in the wake of the town’s major fire.

Low shop vacancy rates, strong customer loyalty and a wealth of new additions to the town are among the reasons some businesses saw an increase throughout the winter period.

The view is widely shared by businesses, despite nearly two months of road closures while work was carried out to restore the Pine Store building after the fire on September 14.

Retailers also praised efforts to promote the town through the Food and Families Festival, Late-Night Christmas Shopping and golden ticket events.

Chris Abbott, of Abbotts DIY, said: “A vibrant town centre helps the local community and we want to maintain that, so let’s hope that Ottery will weather the economic uncertainty over the next few months and continue to buck the trend.”

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The businessman said Ottery had faced much ‘bad luck’ in 2018 with relocation issues around the post office, loss of the town’s last bank and the fire, but was optimistic after seeing an increase in sales and footfall.

He added: “I feel more people are choosing to shop locally, as towns like Ottery have a great range of independent businesses, with that personal service that you can not get in larger stores, and certainly not online.”

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Retailers also praised efforts to promote the town through the Food and Families Festival, Late Night Christmas Shopping and golden ticket events.

New high street additions including The Baby Boutique and long standing traders of 40 years Christopher Piper Wines said businesses strong social media presence

Stuart Philips, owner of Tickety-Boo said many people do online shopping but the town but made a real effort to shop and eat locally.

He added: “I don’t think I know of anywhere else where businesses in general support each other the way they do in Ottery. Of course there has to be competitiveness but at the end of the day, bringing people into the town through the food festival or the golden ticket event is good for everyone.”

With many positives, traders said there cannot be complacency and must change with trends while still providing great customer service.

David Pullen, who owns Pullen & Symes Opticians in Mill Street with wife Nicki, said: “In my opinion, Ottery has an incredibly strong and loyal community and the “feel” of patients & customers who use our Ottery Practice is quite different to that in our city centre practice in Exeter. However, I do think that all local business and retailers must keep an eye on & plan for the future - not just the present & certainly not get stuck in the past.”

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