Sidmouth traders stay positive

SHOPKEEPERS in Sidmouth are keeping positive about the effect the credit crunch will have on business in the coming months.

SHOPKEEPERS in Sidmouth are keeping positive about the effect the credit crunch will have on business in the coming months.

Many believe the unique range of shops and the personal service staff offer,encourages shoppers to remain loyal instead of searching for bargains elsewhere.

Trevor Roberts, managing director of Field's department store, said: "On the back of an indifferent summer season, trading is mercurial; good one day and disappointing another."

He believes the full impact of the crisis will hit after Christmas.

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Promotions will "ensure local customers in Sidmouth or Axminster [Trinity House] are offered as good value for money as they will get in Exeter or further afield."

All Field's 150 staff live in East Devon and two new staff have just been taken on.

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Mr Roberts said his buyers were being cautious, not spending "vast sums on experimental merchandise".

Jack Keen, owner of sweet shop Emily's, said sales were up 10 per cent on last year.

"We sell more to locals than tourists. I put out my Christmas stuff and it is selling heavily.

"We sell luxury goods and people are not buying as much for themselves but they are still buying gifts for their friends' anniversary or birthday."

Marion Widdowson, owner of Country Bloomers, said: "I am busier than ever. I can't keep up with all my orders. Sales are going up every year."

Mike Parrish, MD of 4homes, believes the doom and gloom has been overplayed as fuel and food prices seem to be falling.

"People lack confidence going out and spending but I don't think it will take a lot for them to regain confidence," he said.

He employs eight and said: "People need to be positive and support local businesses, which are competitive with Exeter."

Tim Ford, of Fords of Sidmouth, employs 65 local staff.

He said: "Despite the prevailing economic climate, we have responded quickly with our new Heating Care Scheme which has had an enormous uptake.

"On the electrical side, we price match with Exeter high street and offer free delivery and back-up service.

"We feel in these difficult times that, if the community of East Devon were to support local businesses, we would all weather the storm more easily."

Mike Lee, MD of Potburys, said: "The main impact of the credit crunch on Potburys has been to the removal department. Property transactions are fewer and consequently we are receiving fewer enquiries.

"Furnishing sales are slightly lower than last year but we are working hard to reverse this trend.

"Our auction rooms are busier than before, which we think is because people are more likely to search for a bargain in a downturn.

"Overall we are maintaining a state of equilibrium. We employ 35 staff who live locally and have no intention of reducing this number.

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