Gorleston traders remain positive despite cost of living crisis

Richard and Mark Routledge, owners of What is Hip on Gorleston High Street. Picture: Danielle Booden

Richard and Mark Routledge, owners of What is Hip on Gorleston High Street. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Independent traders down Gorleston High Street said they remain positive in the face of challenging times.

Chair for the Gorleston Traders Association Kevin Huggins, 66, said the High Street is "definitely getting busier" as more people return to local shops.

"We've always considered ourselves as one big supermarket - anything you need is down here," Mr Huggins said.

"You definitely can't get this community spirit online.

"But it is now in the hands of the public. If you want us, use us."

Kevin Huggins, managing director of Fusion Hair Consultants and chair of Gorleston Traders Association.

Kevin Huggins, managing director of Fusion Hair Consultants and chair of Gorleston Traders Association. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Mr Huggins is also the managing director of Fusion Hair Consultants, which has been down Gorleston High Street since 1998.

"Our shop is livening up and we're getting on with things.

Most Read

"However, with lack of live events in the area we've seen people getting their hair done less."

Mr Huggins said before Covid most of his customers would get their hair done every six to eight weeks, whereas currently, it is usually between eight and 12 weeks. But, the salon has had new customers walking through the door.

Mr Huggins shared that rising costs are a worry - with the salon's electricity bill having increased from £650 to £1,110 since the start of the year.

"Everything is adding up," said Mr Huggins.

"But we've had to cut a loss on profits for now. We can't put prices up to compensate or it would drive customers away."

Tracy Russen, owner of Sentiments on Gorleston High Street. Picture: Danielle Booden

Tracy Russen, owner of Sentiments on Gorleston High Street. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Tracy Russen, owner of Sentiments said she was "blessed with wonderful customers who have been a lovely support".

Mrs Russens shop, which specialises in birthday cards, gifts and candles, has been on High Street since 2006.

"It's fantastic here on Gorleston High Street. I spend every day here." Mrs Russen said.

"It's always nice to see our hard work pay off and it's a lovely community hub."

Even during the cost of living crisis, Mrs Russen said she has managed to keep a regular customer base by offering something for everyone's means.

"Across the board, I have kept different prices for things to suit everybody's budget."

Richard and Mark Routledge, owners of What is Hip on Gorleston High Street. Picture: Danielle Booden

Richard and Mark Routledge, owners of What is Hip on Gorleston High Street. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

Richard Routledge, co-owner of What is Hip, said he has had to become more adaptable.

He said: "For us, things are going well.

"But we've had to work a lot harder to keep it that way. We've been doing pop-ups, selling the shop a lot more and we've even begun selling items online.

"It's a different world, but we've had to adapt to that different world.

"Saying that, footfall is up and people seem happier than in previous years."

Mr Routledge said it was too early to see how the cost of living crisis would affect his business.

"It's just starting to kick in, so we don't know how much it will reflect on us yet.

"This will all come down. I've seen it before.

"It's a funny world right now, but we'll get over it."

Mr Routledge said the community amongst traders on the high street has helped him stay positive.

"It's the little things, like helping out with parcels and stuff like that. It's a nice world down here at the moment. It's a bit like how it used to be."

Billy Ellis, owner of Novo Kitchen on Gorleston High Street. Picture: Danielle Booden

Billy Ellis, owner of Novo Kitchen on Gorleston High Street. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Billy Ellis, owner of Novo Kitchen - which opened in February - said he was feeling the benefits of trading in a supportive area.

"Everyone is great around here," said Mr Ellis, 24.

"There's a 'Support Local' feeling. I get a lot of my products from the High Street and there is so much choice".

He said his restaurant's location has proven to be a hit with students from East Norfolk Sixth Form College. However, "there's been some ups and downs".

"With the cost of living, as I'm a new business, I don't know any better," Mr Ellis said. 

"Electricity has been expensive and the cost of stock has gone up - like the cost of cheese has gone up three times since we started.

"But, I think business is going well," Mr Ellis said.

"We're getting by. You can't moan too much. The price rises should stop eventually.

"We've just to got to stay positive."