Businesses record a profitable festive season

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TRADERS in Ellon have recorded a surprisingly upbeat festive season, with the economic downturn apparently having little effect on the town’s retailers.

Traders across a range of professions the Times spoke to recorded good Christmases, with most noting a sizeable last minute rush of custom in the week prior to December 25.

Derek Ritchie, of the town’s Costcutters, told the Times that his shop had enjoyed its best Christmas since Tesco opened at Balmacassie.

“It has been an exceptionally good festive season,” he told the Times. “We’re one competitor down after the closure of Haldanes. That said, it’s been a quiet New Year. Going back ten years, I would have said that the shop was busier on Hogmanay than on Christmas Eve, and now that’s the other way round.”

He added that he didn’t think the weather had featured into his shop’s success.

“The better weather would have ordinarily have prompted people to go to Aberdeen for their shopping,” he said. “That they didn’t is quite surprising.”

Julie Davidson of the Crystal and Gem Shop said that her own experience had been positive, and that turnover had been buoyed by good sales in the months beforehand.

“I got the impression that a lot of people were buying their presents early this year,” she said. “My most busy period was in October and November. The first three weeks of December were really quiet, and then it all began to happen. From what the other traders I’ve spoken to have said, that was their experience as well.

“Admittedly, this was my first year open, so I don’t have anything to compare my figures against, but overall, it’s been a pretty good festive season.”

KC Jewellers of Market Street reported good sales over the season, with manager Kevin Reid telling the Times that turnover was being driven by the shop’s fashion jewellery ranges.

“Silver has sold all year, but the focus changed to gold over Christmas,” he said. “There have been quiet periods over the year, but the two weeks leading up to Christmas were very busy. I’d say it’s been a very good year overall.”

Meanwhile, local licensed premises reported a brisk trading environment, with Neil Beedie of the Buchan Hotel describing Christmas and new Year as ‘busy’.

“December and January are always quite months for rooms,” he said, “but we did notice an increase in the number of people coming to the restaurant. The bar was quiet during the week, but there was also a noticeable increase in the number of people coming over the weekend. All in all, I’d say it’s been a pretty busy Christmas.”

He added that there was a noticeable increase in the number of people coming in for coffee on the day of the Nativity tableaux, which attracted national coverage when three camels took part in the parade.

“We had a lot of people in afterwards having a coffee, a lot of people who weren’t regular customers, so yes, there was a definite knock on effect,” he said.