Town centre still popular with shoppers

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By Nikki Cutler

WHILST the national trend of shopping online creates a steeper slope for an ever declining footfall in town centres, Horsham shoppers have given their opinion on what tempts people into the town centre.

The majority of shoppers agreed that online shopping can often be easier and cheaper, especially when the car is frozen over and the cost of parking is scorching, but they also thought that Horsham town had an atmosphere worth leaving the comfort of their home for.

Maxine Turney, 28, a shop assistant in Birthdays who lives in Billingshurst said that she will either use public transport or get a lift into town to do her shopping.

“I personally like to come in to do some bargain hunting because there are a lot of good deals on at the moment,” she told the County Times.

“Women are probably more likely to come into town than men because they enjoy nosing around all the offers, whereas men just want to get their bits quickly,” she added.

Miss Turney said she thinks the great range of restaurants in Horsham helps to draw in potential shoppers.

“There are a lot of nice places to eat here. People use shopping as an opportunity to meet friends and family and grab some food at the same time.”

Mark Boteuyle, a police officer of Worthing Road, Southwater, said he goes into town to buy most of the items on his shopping list.

“I will go online to buy CDs and DVDs because they’re just easy to find but I like to come in to town for every thing else so that I can actually see what I’m buying,” he said.

“I’m doing some Christmas shopping with my friend today and I’ve driven in. Parking was horrendous on Worthing Road so I’ve parked in Sainsburys.”

Karen Rawlings, 46, owner of the Rawling’s stall in Swan Walk, which sells hats and scarves, said she has noticed far fewer people in town compared to last Christmas.

“I personally have noticed fewer people showing an interest in the stall because it’s not as cold as it was last year. As soon as it gets colder people will want scarves and hats and they know they can’t get these online so that’s why they come here,” she said.

“The people that do come in are definitely older, more local residents who can just walk in.”

Mrs Rawlings, a Lingfield resident, believes that a lot of people are choosing to go to bigger malls to do the majority of their Christmas shopping.

“We have a stall in Milton Keynes as well which is doing really well because that town has a bigger population.”

“I think a lot of people from around Horsham are going to Crawley and Bluewater as well as online because they have a bigger selection of shops and they do late night shopping.”

Winifred Anne Needham, of Bluntsway, Horsham, is retired and said that she enjoys walking into town for the exercise.

“I do go online to buy the bigger or more expensive items because you can get them cheaper online,” she said.

“If I do drive in then I park in Sainsburys, pop into town for a couple of hours then buy some bits in there before I leave.”

The Monday morning shoppers seamed confident that Horsham town makes shopping a more enjoyable experience than going online. The bargain hunters and social shoppers are helping to keep the town running but the parking expenses are causing a hurdle that many people aren’t prepared to jump over.