Christmas shopping trail in Barking was a failure say businesses

Businesses have criticised a trail map competition launched by the council to help boost Christmas trade, with shopkeepers saying only one shopper took part.

For the chance to win prizes, including hampers and clothes vouchers, shoppers were asked to get a map stamped by 16 participating independent stores in Barking town centre between November 24 and December 24.

Three shop owners who took part in the contest, which was part of a national initiative and funded by a government grant, claimed only one person came into their store requesting stamps.

Days before the closing date the council revealed it had received only two valid entries, although were unable to say if the entries were from the same person.

Some businesses said they had between four and ten people ask for stamps but only one shopkeeper said he had sold anything as a result of them coming into the store.

Clive Fraylich, who runs Bodeb Florists at Barking Station, said: “One person came in with a few maps which I stamped, but she didn’t buy anything,” he told the Post. “The whole thing was a complete waste of time and money, especially considering how many posters, maps and cards they printed.”

“The way to get more people to spend money in Barking is by opening a better variety of shops.”

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Narendra Lodhia, owner of Station Jewellers, also in Barking Station, added: “I only stamped one person’s map, even though I gave cards with information about the trail to every customer. It didn’t help my trade at all.”

Funds to pay for printing came from a �10,000 government grant which was spent on initiatives to increase spending in Barking in the lead up to Christmas, but a spokesman said these costs were minimal.

He added: “Take up [of the competition] could have been fairly low, although there is some evidence that consumers started the trail by visiting some shops, but either failed to complete the trail or did not send their map into the competition.”