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Bad weather hits festive trade

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Bad weather hits festive trade

MIXED fortunes were reported by retailers across the region over the festive period — with bad weather dealing a blow to some shops.

Chairman of Dumfries Retailers Association Rab Smith says persistent rain which failed to let up at weekends played a role in limiting festive trade.
Reflecting on trade in the region’s capital, Mr Smith said: “The rain hit them badly. Some of the ‘big boys’ did okay, but not spectacularly.”
He added: “A lot of the small retailers didn’t have a good Christmas.
“I’ve talked to about 70 or 80 different shops, and only a handful have had a really good Christmas.”
Gretna Gateway Outlet Village fared much better, recording its best ever month since launching in 1999.
General manager Peter Gardner said: “The easiest way to sum it up is that December is the best month we’ve ever had.
“2015 was our seventh consecutive best ever year, and December is the best month, sales-wise, that we’ve ever had.”
Nevertheless, Mr Gardner acknowledges the role that weather has to play, and says the Outlet Village’s performance could have been even better.
He said: “We are open air, outdoor, and gale-force winds and torrential rain is the worst combination for us as an outdoor centre.
“So we have set new records despite that weather, and if that weather had been slightly better we would have been even better still.”
Mr Gardner suggests national media coverage of severe flooding in Carlisle and Dumfries might have deterred shoppers from venturing to Gretna, which is located in between.
However, buoyed by the success of 2015, Mr Gardner is looking forward to a prosperous 2016.
And he is expecting further records to fall — thanks in part to a newly completed 19,000 sq ft extension which boasts Next Outlet as its main anchor tenant, and which is expected to see its remaining empty units filled within coming weeks.

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