OWNERS of businesses around Whitehaven have shared their views on how trade has been throughout the last 12 months and their hopes for 2022.

Gerard Richardson MBE, owner of Richardson’s Fine Wines said: “Footfall has not returned to anywhere near pre-pandemic levels and when you consider that the town was already going backwards as far as high street shopping is concerned, it paints a bleak picture.

“Thankfully for us, our web site has picked up a bit of the slack but even in December, right up to and including Christmas Eve, it wasn’t worth us staying open after 3pm.

“That said, with the footfall we had, the web sales and the growth of our Wine and Food Hamper business, we managed to increase our turnover to slightly above pre-pandemic levels which is a lovely boost. Louise Savage has worked with me for over 21 years and launched her own business selling floral art and wreaths for doors and walls. We have now given her a pop-up section in the shop similar to what we’ve offered other start-ups for short-term use for several years. Louise’s section is now a permanent addition.

“To be honest though, I’m upbeat about 2022. The jubilee celebrations will be a massive financial boost for business as well as adding a feel-good factor to all our lives, and there are some nice plans for summer events to be revealed for Whitehaven.”

Michael Moon, who runs a bookshop on Lowther Street, said: “We had a busy month in the run up to Christmas with very good sales of several local books - two written by Whitehaven authors.

“Our online sales of older books have been regular and consistent which is important for us- many orders going to overseas destinations like Switzerland, Russia and Australia.”

“We have our 'once a year regulars' who come home to spend Christmas with relatives and friends who have not let us down.”

“Most local folks want a whiter and brighter Whitehaven - and deserve it.”

“After 51 years running bookshops, I still remain optimistic. In my case because a book is the present you can open again and again.”

Helen Cleaver, of Cleaver’s Bar and Restaurant shared: “Cleaver's I suspect like every business has felt the damage caused by the pandemic and has had a very strange year trying to recover the losses, not only financially but on a personal side with the customers we had gained in our first year.

“We have now just recently had a repeat of last year's Christmas and New year as our bookings basically halved in December with last minute cancellations due to the new variant. Half our bookings for New Year's Eve were cancelled, causing a grim start to the New Year already.”

“Positive lateral flow tests have affected our staff and our customers alike and as we enter the New Year, we are still very concerned about our future. We can only hope that now most people are triple vaccinated, they will feel safer and able to return to the bars and restaurants once again.”