Festive trade shows mixed sales results in Worthing

Town Centre Manager Sharon Clarke
Town Centre Manager Sharon Clarke

A mixed pattern of trading emerged from businesses within Worthing across the festive season.

Fears had been expressed by a number of independent retailers before Christmas that trading would be tough – which was proved as footfall showed a one per cent decrease on last year.

Despite a range of stores offering early discounting followed by Boxing Day sales, financially hard-pressed shoppers left it late to deal with gift buying.

According to town centre manager Sharon Clarke, there were a number of instances of specialist retailers and restaurants which witnessed a busy few weeks. But she revealed there were companies who had fared less well.

Though the Sunday before Christmas was particularly busy in town, she attributed December’s dip in footfall to poor weather and internet competition.

She said: “It has very much been mixed this Christmas. The people that have been offering discounts and deals have brought people into their shops, but those who have not done so have found it difficult to get people to spend.

“Shoppers have felt they wanted to get good value for their money.

“There have been some businesses including restaurants such as Brio, Food and The Fish Factory have been very busy over Christmas, after offering both budget and higher end dining as well.

“Some independent retailers have done well, with those who were offering something different proving busy.”

She added that Worthing Town Centre Initiative would continue to do all it could to support businesses, including organising a series of events.

Paul O’Brien, of Candy Love in Montague Street, recently started a petition for the council to take back control of parking from NCP.

He said: “Christmas was ok, but I have just done my figures for 2012 and we are down 32 per cent.

“With retail parks like Asda, people are just going out of town, which all comes back to the NCP and cost of parking here in Worthing. I think 2013 will be similar to last year, but may improve in 2014.”

Particular concerns had been expressed over Worthing’s West End, there were signs of optimism.

Andy Ibbitson, manager of ERA Healthcare in Rowlands Road, said the firm’s move to its new premises had been a success. “It has been good for us coming here and our business is growing. The rates are also a lot less here than our previous location in town.

“Generally, trading in Worthing has been quiet and I think the main thing is the car parking. I know a lot of people here who go to Crawley and Chichester instead.”