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East Anglia Future 50

How busy have Suffolk retail stores been over the festive period?

PUBLISHED: 14:49 27 December 2018 | UPDATED: 09:08 30 December 2018

Next store at Martlesham Heath Business Park

Next store at Martlesham Heath Business Park

Archant

Retailers nationwide saw a decline in Boxing Day shoppers for the third consecutive year as fears continue to mount for the troubled sector - but in Suffolk, some retailers are feeling more optimistic about 2019.

Marks and Spencer Clacton Picture: GOOGLE MAPSMarks and Spencer Clacton Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

More than 100 shoppers queued outside the branch of Next at Suffolk Retail Park on Ipswich’s London Road waiting to be the first in the door at 6am Boxing Day for the store’s notoriously big sale.

Store manager Catherine Allen said so far, “it’s been extremely busy”. “Yesterday was manic - we had over 100 people queueing at the door before we opened, which is a lot for us because we are only a small store. It was much more than last year.”

However, other stores based in the UK’s retail parks didn’t fare so well, as overall, retail parks recorded a 7.2% decline in shopper numbers.

Figures from retail intelligence specialists Springboard confirmed footfall fell by 3.1% on the day after Christmas across high streets, retail parks and shopping centres.

The window display at Marks and Spencer's Ipswich store, showing the 'must have fancy little knickers' strapline. Picture: Jessica HillThe window display at Marks and Spencer's Ipswich store, showing the 'must have fancy little knickers' strapline. Picture: Jessica Hill

The group put the poor performance in retail parks down to low consumer confidence, putting shoppers off from spend significant sums on large household goods or furniture.

High street retailers have been slashing prices after trading on the busiest shopping day of the year, the Saturday before Christmas, failed to lure shoppers to stores.

Jonathan Lambert is closing down his jewellery store of the same name in Sudbury, before the end of January, so the festive sale was for him also a closing down sale.

“It’s all half price, so people have been flocking,” he said. “We’ll carry on the same until everything is gone. Interestingly, our Lavenham store has also been busy, which is encouraging for us that we have made the right decision in closing in Sudbury but keeping the store in Lavenham open.”

Jill Barrett  is the owner of Barretts store, which has been in Woodbridge town centre for almost 50 years. She is very concerned about the impact on footfall in the town centre of the rapidly-expanding Martlesham Heath retail park   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNJill Barrett is the owner of Barretts store, which has been in Woodbridge town centre for almost 50 years. She is very concerned about the impact on footfall in the town centre of the rapidly-expanding Martlesham Heath retail park Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A store assistant at Marks and Spencer in Ipswich said that despite only starting their sale this morning, the store was “not as busy as it had been yesterday”. She added: “It’s been quite busy, but not that busy. We are now offering up to 50% off.”

In Woodbridge, Jill Barrett of Barretts home interiors department store blamed Brexit for putting shoppers off over the festive period. “We are finding it really challenging to tell you the truth,” she said. “There is not a lot of consumer confidence out there, thanks to Brexit.

“Footfall today was ok, but November and December were not good for us. The retail park in Martlesham Heath is giving us competition - other retailers in town are feeling it too.

“But now that there are new parking spaces opening soon in the town centre, hopefully that will help the situation.”

Jonathan and Yasmin Lambert, owners of Jonathan Lambert Fine Jewellers, of Sudbury and Lavenham     Picture: MACKMANJonathan and Yasmin Lambert, owners of Jonathan Lambert Fine Jewellers, of Sudbury and Lavenham Picture: MACKMAN

It has been a torrid year for British retailers, with notable high street names such as Poundworld and Maplin falling into administration, Marks & Spencer and Debenhams announcing plans to shut stores, while Superdry, Carpetright and Card Factory have all issued profit warnings.

High street retailers have been battling the rise of online shopping, higher costs and low consumer confidence as shoppers rein in spending amid Brexit uncertainty.

Independent family business Jonathan Lambert Jewellers is to close down in Sudbury - citing a lack of investment in the market town and high business rates   Picture: JONATHAN LAMBERTIndependent family business Jonathan Lambert Jewellers is to close down in Sudbury - citing a lack of investment in the market town and high business rates Picture: JONATHAN LAMBERT

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