Penarth traders have thanked shoppers for their support after seeing a general increase in footfall compared to levels before the 17-day firebreak lockdown.

Wales came out of its second lockdown on Monday, and while scenes in Cardiff of packed streets were never going to be mirrored in Penarth, traders have said they have seen a noticeable difference in the number of people shopping locally.

Justin Horton, owner of Funky Monkey on Windsor Road, says it is imperative retailers are able to make shoppers feel safe in the build up to Christmas.

Sharing his thoughts at his other Penarth store, Bee Happy on Lower Glebe Street – where wife and joint owner Rebecca was enjoying the Christmas tunes on Wednesday afternoon – he has everything crossed for a seamless festive period.

Penarth Times: Justin Horton outside Funky Monkey on Windsor RoadJustin Horton outside Funky Monkey on Windsor Road

“This is our busiest time now, on Monday we took half a week’s takings in one day,” he said. “There was a really good atmosphere in the town on Monday, especially with news of the vaccine too.

“The last couple of days have been good too. I think people are pleased they can be out and about, and they have realised the danger some stores are in, and want to show their support. We don’t want our predominantly independent high street to go the same way as so many others have.”

In his six years in Penarth Mr Horton said having to close his doors had never crossed his mind until the last few months.

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“It’s the first time we’ve been threatened with going under,” he said. “In this (fashion) industry you have to buy clothes a year in advance. We did that when we didn’t know this (pandemic) was going to happen.

“We had £50,000 worth of stock which we knew we had to repay. With the lockdowns we’ve lost around £30,000 in takings.

“Our online sales have been good but are very small compared to what we would have taken being open. We can’t compete with Amazon. It’s been a battle to survive.

“But we love it and we’d hate to close. Without the government funding and people coming to the high street when they could it would have been over for us.

Penarth Times: Windsor Road was quite busy on Wednesday afternoonWindsor Road was quite busy on Wednesday afternoon

“We need a straight run to Christmas Eve now. Christmas is really special in Penarth every year."

Christmas certainly seems to have come early to the town and the town council has already begun decorations – including Christmas trees at the town clock.

Louise Smith – owner of Lou’s clothes store on Stanwell Road – thinks it is a feeling shared by shoppers.

“We’re getting loads of early Christmas shoppers this week,” she said. “We had some before the lockdown and we’ve seen even more now.

“I wonder whether people are worried we could go back into another lockdown before Christmas, which would be a disaster.

“We need this period to pull back some of the money we’ve lost. It’s such an important time of year.”

Ms Smith – who has only been trading in the town for two years – says she’s found the last few months particularly challenging.

Penarth Times: The town council have started the Christmas decorations already at the town clockThe town council have started the Christmas decorations already at the town clock

“I think in the first lockdown a lot of people didn’t know we were doing a free delivery service, but the firebreak lockdown went a bit better for us because we seem to be getting known,” she added.

“We also opened our new women’s range in September, which has gone down very well.”

Joint owner of Glass by Design Angelina Hall believes more shoppers are consciously supporting independents.

The town’s Totally Locally Fiver Fest in October – a two week campaign where shoppers were encouraged to shop locally with incentives – went down so well that there will be a similar campaign later this month.

The ‘Tenner Trail’ on November 27, 28 and 29 is a project organised by Penarth Business Group where 51 independents will provide £10 offers for three days.

The project will also include a Christmas shop window decoration competition and puzzles until December 19.

Penarth Times: Angelina Hall at Glass by Design, Station ApproachAngelina Hall at Glass by Design, Station Approach

“It’s so important we get people to the town and continue to make efforts to instil confidence in our shoppers,” Ms Hall said.

“I think some people are still a little nervous to come out, and we’ve seen that again a little. Footfall isn’t where it used to be yet.

“But it’s much better than it has been this year, and we’re pleased to have people back out again.

“Christmas this year seems more important, and we’re seeing that with the town going Christmassy so early. I think it’s wonderful.”

Glass by Design saw a notable increase in delivery sales per week in the firebreak lockdown than in the first lockdown, and Ms Hall added that she feels fewer people are as inclined to go to Amazon after traders' shop local campaign efforts.

Retailer of more than 60 years Nick Osborne, owner of Wasons on Windsor Road, says it is clear the shop local campaign has had a positive impact.

Penarth Times: Nick Osborne at WasonsNick Osborne at Wasons

Mr Osborne, who worked throughout the firebreak lockdown as his store is deemed essential, said: “I’d go as far to say that footfall in Penarth now is as strong as I’ve seen it in 30 years.

“People have a choice to shop here or go to B&Q, and I think people are choosing us. And who can blame them with the queues you see outside B&Q?

“People are shopping locally and there is plenty to be positive about. I can’t thank shoppers enough for how they’ve supported us this year.

“The first week of lockdown we had good sales, the second week dropped off a little, but now we’re back to doing well again.”

Penarth Times: Penarth town centre on WednesdayPenarth town centre on Wednesday

It is a sentiment shared by Robert Lloyd, owner of Barnums gift shop on Albert Road.

“It’s been a particularly busy week, people seem desperate to get out and make the most of it,” he said.

“I’m very grateful for that. We’ve lost a fortune in the last two weeks – it’s been a disaster financially.

“We’re unlikely to catch up on those losses but people coming back out has helped us a lot.

“It's so important we don't have another one (lockdown) before Christmas. For all of us this is the time we need to stay open. Then if there is another one after Christmas so be it. We'll be in a better place to get through it."