'Snow and ice really dented Christmas sales'

THE worst winter weather in a quarter of a century hit retail sales across the borough in the run up to Christmas.

For some stores what should have been the busiest time of year turned out to be a financial disaster as shoppers stayed at home.

Many local businesses saw a slump in their year-on-year pre-Christmas sales, while other traders were forced to go the extra mile - slashing prices and opening longer hours - in order to turn a profit.

President of Ballyclare Chamber of Trade, Niall McConkey, said it had been a difficult Christmas period for many of the town's retailers - a situation exacerbated by the heavy snow and freezing temperatures making conditions treacherous for motorists and pedestrians.

"It was always going to be a tough Christmas period due to the economic climate, and the general feeling among traders seems to be that it was not as good as they had hoped it would be. But the snow and ice had a major affect - it really dented the Christmas sales.

"If people went out of the house at all they only bought the essentials they needed and then went home again. Many older folk especially didn't like coming out in the bad weather, and people didn't like walking the streets which was a major problem for all the businesses along the Main Street.

"The week before Christmas should have been the biggest week of the year for businesses, so the bad weather couldn't have come at a worse time," he commented.

Read the full story in this week's Times...