SOUTH Yorkshire retailers are reporting a ‘positive’ festive season - despite a gloomy national picture of declining figures.
The British Retail Consortium this week revealed sales for Christmas 2012 were ‘underwhelming,’ bringing to a close a disappointing year of minimal sales growth nationally.
But a number of the region’s shopping centres have painted a different picture, saying the loyalty of their local customer base is helping to see them through difficult times.
“Our Christmas footfall was good and our sales have remained strong throughout the year thanks to loyal repeat customers,” said Crystal Peaks centre manager Lee Greenwood.
“We have good penetration into the local community and that’s really helping us to remain robust in this period of recession.”
Graham Firth, manager of Atkinsons in Sheffield said he was buoyed by the Christmas performance: “People are being attracted to The Moor because of the new market and new shops and our footfall is noticeably up as a result. We’ve just had a great Christmas.
“Last year was our 140th in Sheffield and, as a retailer, we’ve gone through a lot of ups and down in that time, particularly lately.
“After this last year, it feels as though there’s finally some light at the end of the tunnel and our local customers are the ones to thank.
“We’re going into 2013 feeling very optimistic.”
Rotherham Parkgate and Barnsley’s Alhambra Shopping centres both saw their festive figures dip, but remain confident their local customers will see them through.
Parkgate manager Dennis Copeland said: “Foot traffic was down by 1.5 per cent, but that really isn’t too bad considering the national story and that’s holding steady with last year’s figures.
“We like to think that we’ll be back into positive figures by Christmas 2013.”
Alhambra manager Ian Booth added: “Are we down? Yes. Are we as bad as we could be? No. We’re actually relatively healthy, so we’re pleased.”
But for some, a disappointing Christmas spelled the end, with two Crystal Peaks stores, ‘Camille Lingerie’ and ‘Williams Electricals’ announcing they will close this month.
Vince Sharp, director at Camille Lingerie, said closure wasn’t an easy decision, but had been a long time coming: “Sales figures have been dropping the past two years and this Christmas was down 15 per cent on last year, which signalled the end for us.”
Williams Electricals has been a fixture at Crystal Peaks for 25 years but, following two years of poor profits, the shopping centre has decided not to extend its lease.