Mixed bag for retail as internet sales bite

The official opening of Kuni's coffee & comics, Bowen Square, Daventry.
The official opening of Kuni's coffee & comics, Bowen Square, Daventry.

Businesses in Daventry enjoyed a bumper Christmas with UK consumer spending estimated to be the highest in Europe.

Bowen Square and the High Street were packed with shoppers seeking last-minute bargains on Saturday, December 20, when consumer spending reached £1.2 billion nationwide before online shoppers spent as much as £1.3 billion on Christmas and Boxing Day.

Bryan Cooney, who runs Kuni’s Coffee and Comics on Bowen Square, said his store broke its previous daily Christmas’s sales record three times in one week as last minute ‘panic’ buyers chose to shop locally rather than travel to larger centres like Rugby or Northampton.

“We saw a big benefit in the last weekend of November when people got paid,” Mr Cooney said. “More people know about us, but also more people in Daventry have jobs and money to spend.”

Mr Cooney also credited Northamptonshire Police with reducing incidences of shoplifting on last year, as well as the provision of radios in local shops to help improve security. “I genuinely feel there was a better atmosphere in Daventry than last year,” Mr Cooney said.

While Daventry’s town centre was awash with shoppers during the last few days before Christmas, Mr Cooney said this was more because Daventry was the “quick and easy” alternative to Rugby or Northampton.

He said: “There are people who ask us why we don’t open a store in Northampton, because that is where they choose to shop, and on some days you can just tell that everyone is shopping elsewhere.”

But not all high street stores enjoyed the benefits of the festive frenzy, with some stores saying they were hit by the rising numbers of people who are now taking advantage of online deals on Boxing Day and the American import ‘Black Friday’.

Quinn’s Footwear has been trading on High Street for around 22 years.

Store manager Harriet Quinn said this year had been quiet, adding: “I have worked in the store for nine years 
and I have run the store for a year.

“A lot of people were doing their shopping online this year, and we saw a lot of people doing their shopping early on.

“Christmas used to be our busiest period.”