Independent retailer questions Grantham shoppers

Josh Shield and David Charles, Grantham Computer Centre.
Josh Shield and David Charles, Grantham Computer Centre.
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A long-established Grantham businessman is taking matters into his own hands to find out why there is a decline in shopping with the town’s independent retailers.

David Charles, who owns Grantham Computer Centre, began a survey in the town centre on Monday with employee Josh Shield (pictured together) and wife Julie. They asked 112 shoppers how often they buy from independents, what they think about the service provided and what would increase their support.

David said: “I spoke to 16 people and about half of them said ‘well done, you are doing something positive’.

“One of the most important questions I felt was ‘do you value local independent retailers because they are more important for the local community?’ Most people strongly agreed with that one.”

The results have yet to be properly analysed, but reading some of the responses fuelled what David fears is a misconception about independent retailers - that they charge more than supermarkets and larger stores. But that is not true, said David.

He added: “A lot of people are under the misguidance that it’s cheaper, but that’s not always the case. That was probably one of the most negative comments made in the survey.”

Grantham born and bred, David has run Grantham Computer Centre for 24 years. He has seen the footfall drop significantly in recent years, and Saturday has gone from the busiest day to the quietest.

He said: “I used to have two Saturday people in and two full-timers. Now I could probably manage with just me.”

Adapting the business has helped Grantham Computer Centre survive. David said: “We’re just as strong because of the way we have adjusted. We do more repairs now than we used to. Because we get more and more repairs we’ve opened up another workshop. And we will continue to adapt.

“I would like to see everybody supporting Grantham, not just its local businesses. If that happens, we might start attracting the big businesses back here again.

“Shoppers could come here, rather than popping off to Nottingham or Lincoln, although I see why they do it. But they should come into town and shop here if they can. It would be brilliant if they did.”

** If you would like to contribute to the survey, cut out the questions in today’s Grantham Journal (Friday, June 28, 2013).