Can Christmas save our High Street?

Christmas shoppers on Princes Street
Christmas shoppers on Princes Street
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RETAILERS on Kirkcaldy High Street are hopeful that Christmas will help to boost sales.

In a week where a survey by the Scottish Retail Consortium show the worst sales fall since 1999, shops on the Lang Toun’s busiest street are looking to recession-hit shoppers to help after a tough year.

Figures show that total sales in November were down by 1.3% on the same month last year.

Retail expert Mary Portas also put out a report on behalf of the Government this week, claiming that High Street all across the UK are in trouble, but Bill Harvey of Kirkcaldy 4All is optimistic of a good December.

“Every household is feeling the pinch, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.

“But on Kirkcaldy High Street levels of footfall are holding.

‘’We now need to entice people into the shops and are hopeful of a good Christmas.”

Two of the biggest names on the High Street are reporting steady sales, but with a note of caution.

Dot Warnock, Team Manager of Boots, said: “Overall we’re much the same as last year.

‘‘December’s not been quite as busy but I think with the bad weather last year people had to stay in Kirkcaldy.

‘‘This year they’re able to travel to Edinburgh or elsewhere so that might have something to do with it.”

Online

Zoe Makin, supervisor at WH Smith said: “We’ve been extremely busy on a Saturday recently though it could be busier in the week.

“We manage to pick up sales through our online service. When people order goods and them come to the store to collect them they sometimes will pick up a magazine or newspaper too.

“We have a new e-reader which is selling well, especially as we reduced it in price.

‘‘It’s that sort of offer that gets people into the store.”

A new survey by Barclays Bank is also hopeful of a healthy Christmas for the High Street, predicting that shoppers in Kirkcaldy will spend a massive £287 million in December, withdrawing £112 million from ATM’s across the town.

Dan Wass, director of current accounts at Barclays said: “We are expecting shoppers to shun the doom and gloom and spend record levels as retailers make massive reductions to entice them in.”

Empty units

David Grove, lead officer of enterprise planning and protective services at Fife Council has been monotoring vacancy rates on the High Street since 2009.

He said: “We have seen a slight improvement though this does not take into consideration recent closures such as McDonalds and recently occupied units in the Postings, Whytescauseway and a few of the High Street units.

“We recognise that high street businesses are facing a very challenging trading environment and that opportunities and solutions to address these challenges need to be identified.”