Heading into Christmas, small business owners have faced delivery driver shortages, a four per cent rise in inflation and uncertainty over a potential winter lockdown.
This could mean product shortages, a hike in prices and a rise in costs at their busiest time of the year.
We spoke to some of the independent traders that make Westgate Street a vibrant destination for Gloucester’s shoppers to see how they’re holding up.
Sean and Alison Rees are the husband and wife team that run Brimble’s Cafe, which opened not long before the first lockdown.
Though they are seeing a good amount of footfall, the uncertainty in their supply chain is making life difficult.
Sean said: “It’s completely random and we know the shortages of products will only get worse as the Christmas season begins to kick in.
“The little guys like us aren’t spending tens of thousands a week on orders, so we know suppliers will naturally go to the big spenders.
“Our deliveries have been better recently – but we know Christmas will be hard work.”
The duo doesn’t seem fazed by this though, as Gloucester’s residents have supported them throughout the past year of trading.
Sean said: “The trade has been really good, we were expecting it to be low but people are really making an effort to use local independent businesses.
“We are lucky in that we have got a very loyal customer base, religious almost.
“We have had loads of support in particular from local elderly residents for whom it’s become a real community spot.”
Libby Austin-Foley, is the cheerful owner of Idun Spirit, one of the many traders on the street offering a more alternative style of retail, selling incense and crystals with a focus on wellness and spirituality.
As part of their business, they also offer meditation workshops and tarot readings.
She said: “Trade has definitely been going up, but it’s hard to gauge as we moved in at the beginning of the first lockdown.
“Working on Westgate Street has been amazing, everyone here has welcomed us and we all try to support each other.”
Libby is glad to have the other alternative traders on the street, rather than seeing them as competitors.
She said: “We are all here for the same reason and having the other traders here means that people know where to go for this kind of thing.
“We haven’t had any supply issues, our suppliers are great and we usually get next day delivery so I don’t foresee any issues over Christmas.”
The Gloucester Antique Centre is a classic independent Westgate trader, set in a centuries old building with well-displayed antiques and full of local curios.
Lee Kendrick is their General Manager, he said: “You still don’t know what to expect but clearly, from what we’ve seen, people have been buying stuff for Christmas.
“There’s definitely a buzz in the air as people are already getting into the Christmas spirit.”
Lee seemed unfazed by the prospect of a winter lockdown or further restrictions, trusting that the shop’s customers would support them as they had after the first few lockdowns.
He said: “We are trying to stay positive as there’s no point speculating about things when we don’t even know if they will happen.
“It is best to stay positive because at some point, if we have to close, we know that people will come back to us.
“I think the fact that we have been doing everything to follow the government guidelines has really helped customers to come out – and I think we found that lots of people want to go out.
“It has been really nice to see our customers coming back.”
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