Community stores need support of shoppers buying local this Christmas

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

Traders are hoping shoppers’ support for local stores will extend to communities across the Royal Borough this Christmas.

Between the first lockdown and the second, loss of footfall has had a devastating impact on sales for businesses, including those based away from the larger town centres in Windsor and Maidenhead.

Robin Suresh is CEO of Jeena’s Italian Fashions in Datchet. Since opening just last year, the store has had the misfortune of needing to close twice.

“It’s been a complete washout,” he said. “It’s important for us to have the local business, but it’s important for local shoppers as well – with shopping online, there’s a risk of items not arriving on time. There’s a backlog.”

Asante Coffee in Sunningdale continues to struggle, as the loss of footfall to the nearby railway station has taken a lot of business away.

“We don’t know when business is going to improve,” said director Bhupinder Jowhal. “Our profits are down 80 per cent. It’s extremely tough.

“If 100 people just buy a bottle of water, spending one or two pounds a day, that makes a big difference.

“People are still getting paid and they are saving money on travel costs, so people have more expendable income. If I was working at home, I’d grab a coffee a day for £2.50.”

In Eton, A Dog’s Life luxury dog boutique is also appealing for local support.

“If people want a thriving, diverse high street then they need to support local independent businesses,” said Jennifer Shephard, the owner.

“The money spent in my shop stays in the community. I pay fairly, I hire local people, I give work experience opportunities for local teenagers – a lot of your big chains won’t do that.”

Venture Photography on Eton high street has made some changes to make it COVID-safe for visitors.

It has increased appointment times so it can clean down its studios and the photographer stands 2m away and remains in a mask for the shoot.

Having a family photo taken is a good opportunity to ‘come and make memories and do something with the family,’ says Kirsty Hughes, photographer at Venture.

“It’s a personal service, we take the time to get to know the families – it’s all about telling that family’s story,” she said.

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