Mice plague helps capture of customers

Stephen Abraham, owner of Castle Hardware. INPT23-300.
Stephen Abraham, owner of Castle Hardware. INPT23-300.

A mini-plague of mice helped boost the Christmas takings in Portadown this year!

Castle Hardware owner Stephen Abraham said that “hundreds and hundreds” of mouse traps – compared with less than 100 a year ago – were sold this Yuletide, with the warm summer and mild start to the winter leading to an explosion in population.

“They’ve been going indoors in their thousands to escape the current cold spell and customers have been snapping them up like there was no tomorrow,” he said.

Sales of general merchandise were up three-to-four per cent generally, he added, with rechargeable hot water bottles, electric kettles, Halogen ovens and irons top of the Christmas sellers.

“The free parking days and the £1 for five hours parking helped a lot,” Mr Abraham added. “The town generally is up a few per cent on last year, and a lot of people have been working very hard to help us turn the corner.”

Adrian Farrell, President of Portadown Chamber of Commerce and manager of the Meadows, said that trading had at least been on par with last year, “when retailers had started to turn the corner”.

He added that sales were spread out over a longer period this year, beginning on Black Friday, and continuing through Small Business Saturday and into the Christmas period.”

Footfall was consistently upwards in the High Street Mall over the Christmas period, manager Tracey Jackson confirmed.

“On one particular day, it was up as much as 13 per cent,” she added. “We reckon, though, the overall average was around five per cent, and the traders are very pleased. It has been a very positive Christmas.”

Gents outfitter John McMahon of High Street was in no doubt that his business “with an upturn tof three to four per cent” was replicated in many parts of the town.

“We have been extremely busy,” he added. “We sold well in the full range – knitwear, suits, jeans, shirts. It’s been a really good Christmas with a buzz about the town.

“The parking concessions helped us a lot and hopefully a parking package to help the high streets will become a permanent fixture.”