'Now more than ever it is crucial stores flourish again'

Shops along Old Fore Street, Sidmouth.

Shops along Old Fore Street, Sidmouth. - Credit: Alex Walton

See it, feel it, touch it! Talk about it! It all sounds like some dialogue from a cheap “B” movie but the reality is that you cannot do any of these things buying goods from the internet.

Through no fault of its own the country’s economy took a serious punch in the chops last year, which rather nicely fell into the hands of internet-based companies, facelessly shipping products around the country, often using third party couriers with less than a casual interest in the care of your package.

However, trading from many of the characterful buildings in the town, small business owners of Sidmouth are made of strong stuff and are fighting back with a vengeance to buck the internet trend. Much can be said for face-to-face communication, speaking with real people and being treated with good old-fashioned customer service, which is so evident throughout the Regency location where you can be treated with warmth, courtesy and good manners in so many of the town’s stores, something you simply will not find navigating your way through an order form on the internet.

These shops are run by real people whose heart and soul oozes from the building their business occupies, such is the passion they have invested. Now more than ever it is crucial to ensure that we see these stores flourish again following the devastation suffered by the lockdowns and hold the fabric of the town together for years to come by shopping locally. If these shops fall by the wayside then the economic structure of the whole town will sadly follow some of the coastline and disappear into the sea leaving an economic morgue in its wake.

Every year thousands of visitors flock to this glorious seaside town because they love its hotels, coastline, traditional aura and the delightful streets boasting many proudly independent stores stocking unique quality goods. However, the last 12 months has also seen many new visitors arrive, most of whom would normally be abroad at this time of year, but travel restrictions have changed their plans. This has been an encouraging boost for many, but one swallow does not make a summer.

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