Bath jewellers lost 'nearly a month's turnover' due to Covid

The Silver Shop in Bath was only able to open for 11 hours in the week up to Christmas.

A jewellers and gift shop in Bath lost almost a month's income in a week due to Covid - while other small businesses around the West Country say they are trading less than usual.

The Silver Shop on Union Passage was largely forced to close in the final week up to Christmas as staff tested positive for the virus.

It meant the store was open for just eleven hours in the final lead up to Christmas.

Guy Douglas, who runs the business, said: "We would have usually done well over a month's business in those six days and we ended up taking a fraction of that so it was pretty catastrophic.

"That was a fairly huge hit for us unfortunately."

The Silver Shop is now open once again, but like other small companies in Bath, there is concern that footfall is down.

The Silver Shop is not the only independent business that has lost revenue this festive season.

Rosario's Cafe, on Northumberland Place, has served customers in the city for more than a decade.

But its owner says some customers are hesitant to sit indoors, while others are avoiding the city centre altogether.

Rosario Bavetta said: "Things are definitely quieter. I don't think the offering in Bath is as good as it used to be because a lot of shops have closed down.

"A lot of it is Covid, because people are scared to come out. I find that a lot of our older generation are not coming into the cafe, they're not coming inside, so they are kind of staying away at the moment."

'What we need is reassurance from the government'

There are similar concerns about quieter streets and New Year sales in Exeter.

Clodagh Murphy, chair of Exeter Chamber, says December started strongly for shops but trade declined quickly when the government tightened restrictions due to the spread of the Omicron variant.

"We saw a drop off, a devastating drop off, in both retail and hospitality. Those few days in the run up to Christmas were really quiet. This week, really quiet.

Clodagh Murphy, chair of Exeter Chamber says businesses need people 'to come back out and shop'.

"We need people to come back out and shop, and to do so safely, obviously, but the retailers and the hospitality sectors in particular are being very badly impacted.

"What we fundamentally need is reassurance from the government that those small independents that may struggle with VAT bills and with rate bills in January will be supported so that they can come through this so when footfall does return, which we know it will, that they're still standing."

In Exeter's independent quarter on Fore Street, many of the shops have chosen to close completely for the holidays, reopening on 4th January.

Some independent business have taken the decision to close their doors for the whole festive period.

'Everybody wants to get back into the real world'

But it is not all bad news for small businesses and town centres in Bath and Exeter.

Those who were out to catch the post-Christmas sales in Bath told ITV West Country that the streets felt quite busy. "It seems like most people want to be out" said one shopper, while another said they feel "everybody wants to get back into the real world".

Meanwhile, a shop-worker at Evolution, a small business on Fore Street, Exeter, said their customers have been very supportive.

"They want to pick things themselves rather than buy online," Mandy Rodriguez said.

"That's been amazing, so we've been very busy, even after Christmas.That's really good for us, and being an independent trader, it's always a wonderful thing," she added.

With some crowds to be found out shopping in both Exeter and Bath, this at least offers some hope to businesses for the year to come.