Honiton: First signs of economic recovery?

PUBLISHED: 09:17 12 February 2010 | UPDATED: 00:54 16 June 2010

IS Honiton s economy inching out of recession? Shop owner Sarah Simcock thinks it is. She is seeing the first green shoots of recovery at her ladies clothing outlet Caramel.

IS Honiton's economy inching out of recession? Shop owner Sarah Simcock thinks it is.

She is seeing the first green shoots of recovery at her ladies' clothing outlet Caramel.

"The recession did affect us; it affected everybody," she told the Herald.

"When I moved to larger premises in High Street three years ago, trade was fantastic and it gave me the opportunity to open a second shop in Exmouth.

"But, by the time the lease was signed, the recession had started."

Mrs Simcock, 38, says she kept going through the recession by keeping a keen eye on her prices and range of stock.

As Caramel marks its fifth anniversary, sales are now up by 16 per cent on last year in the Honiton shop and 25 per cent up in Exmouth.

Mrs Simcock believes that, although people have been careful about spending money, consumers appreciate good quality customer service and go out of their way to support local businesses.

Selling online has expanded Caramel's customer base and enabled Mrs Simcock to keep a wide range of clothing and accessories in stock, benefiting her shop customers.

"If the internet side of my business continues to grow, I will be able to consider taking on more staff," she said. She currently employs 10 people.

On the topic of empty shops in Honiton, Mrs Simcock shares a sentiment recently expressed by businessman Anthony Dimond.

"I don't think shops will stay empty for long in Honiton," she said.

"Honiton is a great town. People do support local businesses and Honiton has got a lot to offer.

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