‘Bring back A-boards,’ say Chichester sweet shop owners

Independent business The Sweet Jar has been selling confectionary in Southgate for seven years
Independent business The Sweet Jar has been selling confectionary in Southgate for seven years

Sweet shop owners have spoken out about why they believe some independent businesses struggle to keep going in Chichester. 

The Sweet Jar in Southgate has been serving the city with traditional sweets for more than seven years.

Owners Jan and Matt Ellison say rising parking prices and business rates, as well as the banning of A-boards in the city centre has made things increasingly difficult.

The couple employ local students but in recent times they say have had to work extra hours themselves because they are unable to afford the staff levels they require.

Mr Ellison said: “Chichester used to be a hub of independent shops, now we are seeing chains spring up all over the place.

“I’m concerned it will become like any other generic town.”

Chichester District Council removed A-boards from the city in 2014 and Mr Ellison said the free form of advertising had affected his shop.

Pointing to a telephone box opposite pasted with an advert for a fast food chain, Mr Ellison said: “It’s one rule for us and another for the rest, it just isn’t fair.”

Mr Ellison said rising car parking fees and a lack of free parking like in other locations such as Bognor Regis and Rustington was putting shoppers off.

“As part of the Chichester Bid they should look at regenerating the parking here, it’s just terrible,” he said. “That’s what people expect now when they come to Chichester, no parking.

“It’s stopping people wanting to shop here.”

Mr Ellison regard he and his wife as lucky to have found their landlord as he believes many in Chichester were mainly interested in the larger chain stores who are able to pay higher rent.

Only this month, Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe in nearby South Street closed after failing to pay its rent.

But insisting The Sweet Jar isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, Mr Ellison said: “It’s good working here, you get your regular customers. It’s a polar opposite to my last office job.”

He added: “It may be a struggle but there are a lot more important things to worry about nowadays, we will keep going.”

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