Our local shops are feeling the pinch in the recession and some are warning that they might have to close. So, as I explained in my last post, I’ve decided this year to try to spend as much of my Christmas budget in my home community as I can.
I headed into town the other afternoon on a present shopping mission. But an hour or so later, I was beginning to wonder if I’d bitten off more than I could chew. Our high street is a mixture of chain stores, such as Superdrug and New Look, and some independent stores. So I thought I’d explore the independent ones first to see if there were any good bargains or inspiration for presents lurking in there. I was curious because there were a few I’d never actually ventured into before.
However, on reflection, this was probably because I’d sensed they were out of my league. In one of the clothes shops everything was beautifully set out and the staff friendly and not too pushy. But on examining the price labels I knew I was out of my depth. The cheapest item I could find was a £50 scarf. They were evidently catering for more upmarket clientele, so I beat a swift retreat. Perhaps I’ll pay another visit when they have a sale on. On the bright side, there were plenty of other customers in there, so hopefully they were spending some money. I tried some other independent clothes stores which were more reasonably priced but couldn’t find what I was looking for.
Later I visited a couple of gift shops but found some of the merchandise a bit overpriced and not really my cup of tea. I’m not a fan of kitsch and I like presents that someone will actually use. Eventually, when I was considering giving up, I found another gift shop with some unusual costume jewellery. There were some beautiful big chunky bracelets and one which made a good present for a close female relative and at £15, not too expensive. At the till I asked the proprietor how business was doing. She said things had begun to pick up in the last few days but it had ‘been a long time coming’ and that people seem to leave Christmas shopping to the very last minute now.
A friend of mine said one of the independent high street chemists sold perfume at reasonable prices, so I thought I’d investigate. The perfume was surprisingly well priced, even compared with Superdrug, but they didn’t have the brand I was looking for, so in the end I had to go to Superdrug. However, I did pick up a pretty scarf in the chemists for £4.99 which made another good present, and I found a nice outfit for my goddaughter in one of the department stores.
All in all, I was disappointed not to find more presents on our high street to suit my budget. But I did have more luck in our local garden centre, where I picked up a great book for just £4.99 and some other stocking filler presents for a few pounds each. And managed to get my wrapping paper and labels for £1 each from our local newsagents. Hopefully I’ll have more luck keeping my Christmas food shopping local. I’ll let you know how I get on later in the week.
Is it impossible for local shops to compete with high street chains on pricing and choice? Leave a message and let me know.
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