Woolworths in Christmas tree row

A NATIONAL retailer has been branded a scrooge after failing to get into the festive spirit and spend £35 on a tree to decorate their shop frontage.Woolworths is among a handful of shops refusing to pay for the trees to be erected on their buildings in the Thoroughfare, Woodbridge, claiming it does not have any money to buy a tree.

By Richard Smith

A NATIONAL retailer has been branded a scrooge after failing to get into the festive spirit and spend £35 on a tree to decorate their shop frontage.

Woolworths is among a handful of shops refusing to pay for the trees to be erected on their buildings in the Thoroughfare, Woodbridge, claiming it does not have any money to buy a tree.

But the town's independent retailers have tried to bring in some Dickensian magic, with more than 100 trees decorated with white lights during Christmas, and they are furious at the attitude displayed by prominent companies.


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Pat O'Hagan, who runs News Plus opposite Woolworths, has two trees on the shop façade.

She said: “All the little old shops have forked out for trees but they have not done it.

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“Woolworths head office did say they did not have the money to do it, but they are quick to extend their hours and get more trade.

“It is just not on - I think they should be blackballed.''

Marion Wells, town centre coordinator, said: “Several of the national stores are very supportive of the town centre, for example Boots, Mackays, Budgens and Lloyds Bank, but there are many more who are not.

“This is a shame as the independent shopkeepers and some residents make such a contribution to the town and the trees are a real attraction which everyone benefits from.

“I can understand why some of the traders are upset about some of the national stores not participating.”

Paul Vale, manager of Barretts, said: “We have four trees on our frontage and the cost is minimal really in comparison to the spirit that it generates. “Woodbridge is a small market town, small independent traders do operate a friendly service and part of that comes down to putting out Christmas trees and hanging baskets.

“It is part of what Woodbridge is all about. Even when things are tight you make little gestures.''

Homeforce has erected 128 trees this year and uses 5ft real trees from a supplier in Hasketon.

The company wrote to head offices of all the national stores represented in the Thoroughfare and asked if they wanted to take part.

Mackays agreed to buy a tree but at least two companies refused.

A Woolworths spokesperson said: “Woolworths can confirm that it was approached to buy a Christmas tree for the store frontage.

“Unfortunately, it has had to decline the offer because stores do not have individual budgets to contribute to such activity.

“Budgets are already allocated at head office for the year and there is no additional budget to pay for such an activity.

“Woolworths prides itself on helping the local community that it's in.

“The store in Woodbridge does a number of things for the town from providing the local radio link to helping local children's charities, through its own charity Kids First.

''Woolworths store is one of the most festive shops on the high street with Christmas trees and lights in the windows, and Christmas music complimenting the instore environment to ensure that our customers feel suitably festive while they do their Christmas shopping.''

Peacocks is also without a tree but the company said yesterday there had been some confusion over how to take part in the scheme and they wanted to buy a tree.

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