Christmas shoppers deserted Preston city centre as two rival groups moved in to protest leaving many small businesses out of pocket.Advertisement
Owners, managers and traders voiced concerns of violence, which failed to materialise on Saturday, after scenes of violence and disorder at previous events comprised of English Defence League (EDL) and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) demonstrators.
The arrival of demonstrators from rival factions spooked shoppers. This dealt a blow to shops during the busiest Saturday trading days in the run-up to Christmas.
The manager of Headlines Hair closed the shop early in preparation for disruption and a downturn in trade. She said customers started cancelling appointments on Saturday resulting in sales falling by 50%.
But local shop concerns were met with anger as one small business explained.
Ruth Anderson, 39, owner of Hair Studio, in Friargate, said: “We lost 90% trade. They [EDL] have a right to freedom of speech but the people who have come, are from out of town and not born and bred Prestonians.
“Not only that, how much do they cost the taxpayer?” she added.
Mrs Anderson’s business partner, Carol Carr, 43, commented: “As it is one of the busiest Saturday’s in the run up to Christmas, it’s not good.”
A confectionary drink store in Friargate reported a big loss in sales.
Joe Gosney, manager of Shakeaway, in Preston, said: “Compared to last Saturday, we have lost 90%.”
Mr Gosney added he would find it difficult to explain it to his boss and any lost income could not be recovered by insurance.
Market traders deserted the Fish market, the venue for UAF, fearing violence by their stalls.