West Sussex retailers David and Pippa Heritage are back in business less than a week after floods ravaged their store, thanks to the help and support of their local community.
Heavy rainfall resulted in more than 10 inches of flood-water sweeping through their Barns Green Village Store in the early hours of December 23, destroying stock and equipment.
The Post Office’s safe was also flooded and cash badly damaged.
A power cut also forced David to discard thousands of pounds of chilled and frozen stock.
“While the Fire brigade weren’t much help, the support given to us by our local customers was almost overwhelming,” David said. “Once the flood waters had receded, people came down in their droves armed with mops and buckets and they didn’t stop until the job was done with many working late into the night.”
The mass clean-up operation also forced the store to close on Christmas Eve – normally a key day for trade - but David and Pippa still managed to fulfil all their turkey and vegetable orders, and even made deliveries to local elderly people.
“We simply can’t thank our loyal local customers enough for all their help. The shop has been cleaned from corner to corner, and we are back in business. I guess every cloud has a silver lining, and this has most definitely been it,” David added.
Elsewhere, many retailers were less affected by the adverse weather conditions and experienced positive festive sales. Bob Bettesworth, of Bob’s Shop, Newdigate in Surrey, said: “The village itself hasn’t been affected by the floods so fortunately there’s been no damage, however surrounding areas have been hit hard. A number of roads have been closed which has been quite good news for us as it meant that local people stayed local and did all their shopping with us.”
Paresh Vyas, of JND Stores in Droylsden, Manchester, said sales over the festive period were flat year on year, with the rain keeping customers away. But New Year’s Eve sales were up 70% compared with the same day in 2012. “We cut price on our beer, including an offer for 15 Carling for £11 plus free two glasses. We hit all our targets, and it helped that the mults closed at 5pm,” he said.
Adam Hogwood, manager of Morrison’s Budgens of Broadstairs in Kent, said the store experienced a better Christmas than he anticipated. “Due to competition opening up in the area, we were expecting a drop in sales of up to 20% over Christmas and New Year but it wasn’t even close to that thankfully,” he said. “In the week leading up to Christmas, our sales were up every day compared to the previous year.”
Nick Lloyd, managing director of Symonds’ Budgens, which owns nine forecourt and c-stores across the West Country, said sales were up 10% over the Christmas period, despite a sluggish start. “It was a very slow run in to Christmas and we were getting really concerned. But it came back exceptionally strong and we had a record Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There were some leaking roofs and flooded roads, but it didn’t really affect us,” he said.