EACH year in the run-up to Christmas there are campaigns to shop locally, and to support your town’s high street.
In the case of Montrose High Street shopping continues along Murray Street, where Neil A. Watt, butcher, proved himself a master of the juicy soundbite. He told us: “It has been an absolute blinder. There was so much business before Christmas that we had to stop taking orders far earlier than normal. People want their meat from a real butcher’s shop and not supermarkets. For New Year we have been stowed out and my bakers are working round the clock. We’ve gone through two tonnes of steak already.”
Lynn of ‘Next to You’, ladies’ underwear retailers, told us that trading had been at the previous year’s level, and that she was certainly not disappointed. She went on to say that there had been an excellent atmosphere with customers, and she concluded: “It’s been a good one.”
At Robert Ritchie, sound system specialists, Robbie Ritchie said that business had been good, perhaps not quite as much as the previous year, but nonetheless acceptable. He added that his perception was that the High Street had been not quite as busy this festive season.
Peter Roberts of PMR Jewellery was in no doubt. “I’m very happy. Sales were well up on the past two years. I think more people have been shopping locally, and the shopping card incentive that the Review instigated helped, too.” He added that he had received a number of commissions, and that people appreciated his own, hand-made jewellery.
Neil Werninck of Van Werninck Studio said that he had been very busy in his studio, photographing clients. He went on to say that there was no great movement in the retail side of his business, but the skills of a professional photographer are always in demand.
Mr Werninck also said that the High Street had not been quite as busy as in former years, and speculated that the last lot of ‘improvements’ might bear some responsibility for that.
We were told at William Johnston, newsagents, that sales of jigsaw puzzles, in which the shop specialises, had been excellent. Whilst outlets such as garden centres have homed in on the jigsaw market, their prices tend to be notably higher.
At the George Hotel we learned that the whole of December had been very busy with meals, and probably even better than the previous year.
Mr Chris Banks at Highland Scene described himself as “Reasonably content” with festive trading. He added: “We’ve matched last year’s figures.”
And at the Hardware Store, the manager told us that trading was better than last year, in a general cross-section of lines, with things like companion sets up. Down were weather-related items such as bags of pavement salt and bottled gas.
So there you have it. The overall picture has been that local shoppers have continued to support the town’s businesses, either at a similar level to last year, or better.
There is, too, a perception that while many people continue to make purchases over the Internet, there are some things that just cannot be bought online.
When was the last time anybody Googled a steak pie?