Rise in online shopping and bad weather disrupts Doncaster town centre trade

Boxing Day sale shoppers on the streets of Doncaster
Boxing Day sale shoppers on the streets of Doncaster

Some businesses fared better than others in the post-Christmas shopping trade - as many shoppers dodged the rain and deserted shops to hunt for bargains online.

Doncaster market traders said business was down from Boxing Day onwards as people were turned off by the bad weather and instead chose to snap up bargains on the internet from the comfort of their own homes.

Nigel Berry, 57, vice-president of the Doncaster Market Traders’ Federation, who has run a seafood stall on the market for 44 years, said: “We had a really good run up to Christmas, but then it was really poor afterwards.

“There was bad weather, which nobody can do anything about, but when you are faced with the rise in the number of people doing their shopping online then you are up against it.

“The council had free parking in the town centre in the run up to Christmas but I think they should extend it to after Christmas aswell. I think this would encourage more people to do their shopping in the town centre next year.”

Peter Dale, Doncaster Council’s director of regeneration and environment, said the authority has supported traders in a number of ways, including the land train, free parking and £1m regeneration of the market.

But he added: “We can’t always vouch for the great British weather and the heavens opening.”

Major shopping centres fared better.

Laurie Barton Wright, Frenchgate Shopping Centre manager, said: “The feedback from our retailers tells us that the Christmas period into January has been busy - a steady build-up compared to previous years with some stores trading very well, either due to product desirability such as Pandora and Lush, or promotions such as Debenhams who had some strong beauty offers.

“Boxing Day was great for the centre with the number of visitors up three per cent on the previous year. The following two days were a Sunday and then a Bank Holiday which meant shorter trading hours, but we were still busy all the way through to New Year’s Eve.

“Overall, like for like, for the three-week Christmas period (14 December – 1 January) we were two per cent up on visits on the previous year and three per cent up for car park users.“

Cheryl Sadler, centre manager for Lakeside Village, added: “We are please to report that trade at Lakeside Village has been very positive over the Christmas period. The week from Boxing Day to New Year’s Day has also been busy with stores reporting excellent sales.

“Many of our stores have had an uplift into double figures from the previous year.

“Our customers benefit from free parking, free entertainment and a great range of stores all offering fantastic discounts.”

Dan Fell, chief executive officer of Doncaster Chamber, said: “Across the country retailers reported a mixed bag over the festive season and Doncaster was no different. Whilst some businesses did very well, others continued to struggle against online competition. At the onset of the New Year, the overall mood in the Doncaster business community is one of confidence and bullishness and there is a lot for the borough to look forward to in 2016, including the opening of FARRRS and Tour de Yorkshire.

“As Doncaster’s economy continues to grow and expand it is important that increased emphasis is put on re-imaging the town centre to include more leisure options, education facilities and improved residential and commercial offers. This will, in turn, support retailers in the centre by created increased vibrancy during the holiday seasons and around the year.”