York businesses cut opening hours over 'tough' winter

David Skaith of Winstons of York has reduced his shop opening hours <i>(Image: Newsquest)</i>
David Skaith of Winstons of York has reduced his shop opening hours (Image: Newsquest)

YORK businesses are increasingly reducing their opening hours to help survive the quiet winter months.

But York BID says it is too soon to tell if this is linked to the cost-of-living crisis or a new, Post-Covid normal.

Among the retailers cutting back since the busy Christmas period is Winstons of York in Swinegate.

Owner David Skaith says this is the first time he has done this, closing on Tuesday and Wednesdays.

David, who is chair of the York High Street Forum, says many businesses are finding it tough.

“It’s so quiet, it’s not worth opening,” he told the Press.

David says reducing hours helps save on staffing and energy costs.

“Most people have reported a very good December, but post-Christmas, it has been very quiet, a lot quieter than normal.”

David says he has seen a few premises that look to have closed and shoppers need to regain confidence to spend again.

“Until then, it will stay tough for some time,” adding he hopes the upcoming school half term and York Ice Festival will boost things.

York BID executive director Andrew Lowson says people have been upbeat when talking about the “good trading” they enjoyed in the run up to Christmas.

But he too has noticed “a few cafes” and “the odd shop” being closed.

Andrew reports signs in windows saying businesses are shut for renovations, whilst others have advised passers-by they are simply having a post-Christmas holiday.

Such moves give businesspeople lower overheads over a quiet spell and a much-needed break.

“When people come back in the Spring, they will be able to make hay when the sun shines.

“Maybe it’s a new normal, adapting to a new post-Covid world, so it may not be such a negative," he said.

The latest York BID figures for footfall, show that in the week ending January 15, visitor numbers at 107,035, were down 4.4% on the previous week.

However, they were up 1% on the same period last year and at 219, 525 visitors, the year-to-date was 6% up on the same period in 2022.

Overall, the total number of visitors to York for the last 52 weeks is 9,258,703 which is 15.1% up on the previous year, York Bid reported.

Meanwhile, York’s McArthurGlen Designer Outlet reports a “very strong end to 2022”, which has continued into 2023.

Centre manager Paul Tyler says January is “one of the quieter months”, but it is “hugely positive" to see customer numbers “continue to be ahead of equivalent weeks last year and also the same period in 2019.”

The outlet, he added, has see new brands such as The Perfume Shop, Sweaty Betty, Carvelo, Hugo and Café Valieria recently open up. They will soon be joined by the return of Samsonite travel luggage, plus Yo Sushi! and Clarins skincare.