Cardiff’s Royal Arcade shop owners on how they’ve ‘defied’ the downward retail trend

Retail sales are the lowest they’ve been since 2018, statistics released today has revealed.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed sales figures dropped by 2.8% last year from the year before. This is the biggest decrease since 2018.

The ONS data also showed that December 2023 had the biggest monthly decrease in retail sales since January 2021, when the UK was in lockdown.

However, independent traders in Cardiff’s arcade told CJS News that their sales figures do not necessarily align with this new data.

Phillip Bottrill from The Pen and Paper Stationery Co. said in 2023 the store’s sales had increased by 15% from the previous year. He said his shop’s unique products are what keep the customers coming in.

He said: “I think where we scored is, we have a business that is very different. The competition isn’t that great, we’ve got a selection of merchandise which seems to work, and there are probably only two or three shops in Cardiff with similar ranges of merchandise.”

He added: “Since the pandemic, a lot of people actually enjoy coming out, shopping, touching goods, picking them up, handling them, and making a decision to buy them.”

John Powell from Welcome Things and Little Welsh Company agreed with what Phillip had to say.

He said his two stores has also used their unique selling point, of being the biggest sellers of Jelly Cats in Cardiff, in order to increase sales: “All the Japanese students, as well as anybody local from a toddler to adult, love them so basically that’s kept us going.”

John also believes the Christmas tourist trade has helped his businesses this year due to their locations: “We’re in the middle of the Christmas market so people think we’re part of it. So, I wouldn’t say people shopped less. It was like a normal Christmas for us.”

Whilst these traders had seen improvements in their sales figures, this can’t be said for department stores. According to ONS, they saw an almost 7% drop in sales from November 2023 to December 2023, and a 4% drop from the previous Christmas.