Last minute rush benefits shops

A LAST minute ‘spurt’ in Christmas trade is believed to have benefited many traders in Magherafelt.

The town’s Chamber of Commerce president Ian Henry said business for many shopkeepers over the Christmas period was “as expected”.

“It’s too early to tell what business was like overall in the town in the run-up to Christmas and New Year,” said Mr Henry.

“What I do know is that there was the traditional trading push in the final few days leading up to the holiday. Most of the trade appears to have been done in the last week.”

Business people will be meeting in the New Year to discuss the holiday trading which was reported as being ‘slow’ in the opening weeks of December.

Late night shopping in Magherafelt was described as ‘patchy’ with some businesses benefiting more than others.

Mr Henry agreed late night opening for shops was probably not as popular as a few years ago with shops having to weigh-up whether it was economically viable.

He said men appeared more inclined to shop in the evenings than women.

“A man would pop into a shop maybe for just one item and that is not much good to the business which has to take into consideration staffing, heating, and lighting,” he said.

Meadowlane shopping centre at Moneymore also reported a boost in business as the last-minute present hunters came out in numbers, particularly in the weekend before Christmas.

Mr Henry said that the Chamber of Commerce was now hoping that 2013 would bring a lot more business to the town.

He added that several businesses had experienced economic hardship in the past year and some had been forced to close or specialise in online retail.