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‘Hobbyist shop owners are depressing our town’

Carolyn Stocker, Owner of Beachcomber in Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, and a member of the Fashion Association of Britain (FAB)

Shop owners who treat retailing as a bit of a hobby are depressing our town.

We hardly have any empty units in our attractive coastal resort, but have too many shops that open only at weekends out of the main season.

We’ve traded in Wells-next-the-Sea since 1979 and steadily increased business between October and April. We closed our gift shop last May to concentrate on our fashion business, which we took over in 2004. Running two shops became just too much for us, but a single shop seems too much for some.

Over the past two or three years, the town has seen an influx of new and very attractive stores, a real boost to the shopping offer. Sadly, as soon as autumn approaches, their opening hours plummet. Between November and March, we are lucky if we see them trading 15 hours a week.

I regard retailing as a service industry and customers dictate your success or failure. Presented with so many ‘Closed’ signs on our main shopping streets, who can blame the public for going elsewhere? With the arrival of a supermarket on the edge of town imminent, we really need our part-timers to get stuck in to save the unique community of our town.

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