Steady start to Falkirk’s 2012

The Howgate noted a rise in the number of visitors.
The Howgate noted a rise in the number of visitors.

Town centre traders have reported a “positive start” to the new year.

But it was the end of the line for one business.

A near snow-free run up to the festive season may have helped increase the number of visitors to the Howgate Shopping Centre in Falkirk over the period.

General manager Suzanne Arkinson said: “Footfall was up by 25 per cent from last year and our car park had 23 per cent more cars in it from 2010.

‘‘There were definitely a lot more people around during the festive period.

“And I don’t think it was just because the weather was better, most of the snow had gone by the second half of December in 2010. We haven’t collected comments from individual stores yet, but a lot of them went into their sales early and that brought people into the centre as well. It’s a positive start to the new year.”

However, one Howgate Centre business definitely not enjoying a good start to 2012 was D2 Jeans, which closed its doors last week - one of 19 UK stores to shut with the loss of 200 jobs as the firm went into administration.

Administrator James Stephen, from BDO LLP, blamed the chain’s problems on “extremely difficult trading conditions” which had hit the sector.

On the High Street itself, one new business continued to establish itself while a festive favourite got its usual Christmas boost.

A spokesman for Wilkinsons, which also has an entrance in the Howgate, said: “This was our first Christmas in the town so we have nothing to compare it with. In general when we open a new store it is two or three years before we have figures to measure our performance.”

According to staff at Waterstones book shop, business was good over the festive weeks.

A spokesperson said: “People love to buy each other books at Christmas and we were certainly happy it wasn’t snowing this year.

‘‘I wouldn’t say we had a lot more people in but it was certainly a lot steadier.”