'Never seen anything like it' - Norfolk Christmas shopping frenzy has begun

The Tunnel of Stars is returning to Chantry Place shopping centre in Norwich for Christmas 2021. 

Those visiting Chantry Place this Christmas will be greeted by a glittering tunnel of stars which returns temporarily in place of the rainbow currently at the site.  - Credit: Supplied

It may still be October but retailers across Norfolk have reported that Christmas shoppers are already out in force.

Business owners said customers have been preparing for Christmas much earlier than in previous years mostly due to the fear of supplier issues and increased prices.

Earlier in October, Boris Johnson said that supply issues will last until Christmas and admitted he had known for months that the UK's haulage industry was in trouble.

Norwich's Chantry Place general manager, Paul McCarthy announced that many shoppers are already in the Christmas spirit and many have already began buying things from their Christmas lists.

Mr McCarthy said: "We are really excited about Christmas and we are hoping it will be much more like a traditional Christmas where friends and family come together."



Steve Kerrison, owner of Kerrison Toys in Norwich and Great Yarmouth, said: "People are certainly worried about what stock will be around.

"We've had a few deliveries recently and we're starting to look very healthy on the shelves.

"We're not really struggling - there will be plenty of toys out for Christmas, but people might struggle to get specific ones.

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"We're finding people are buying early if they know what they want.

Philip Blake at H Blakes Butchers

Philip Blake has been on the market for 50 years and his family has been there for 99 years. - Credit: James Weeds

Philip Blake, owner of H Blake Butchers on Great Yarmouth Market Place, said some of his customers are worrying about meat for Christmas.

He said: " We have a lot more people asking more about getting things early."

Mr Blake reassured his customers not to panic buy.

"Where I get my turkeys and geese from, there's no problem at all.

"There's no need to panic."

File photo of Paul Roy in front of Roys' Hoveton store. 

File photo of Paul Roy in front of Roys' Hoveton store. - Credit: Colin Finch

Roys of Wroxham, which has department stores across Norfolk and Suffolk, has reported a surge in demand at its toy shop in Hoveton.

Paul Roy, the business's buying and marketing director, said: "It's very apparent that our customers are taking advantage of the good current stock levels we have in the stores to buy earlier for Christmas.

"Our toy store more than tripled its sales last week versus the same week in 2019, and that's before our supplier funded promotions kicked off this week."

Mr Roy said that in his 30 years in the industry, he has "never seen such dramatic shifts in demand, caused by the continuing impact of the pandemic".

"There seem to be extra visitors to the Broads too, extending the season more than usual in Wroxham," he added.

Tom and Kerry Unwin run Eden in Stalham High Street, which has nearly been open a year. Pictures: Da

Tom and Kerry Unwin run Eden in Stalham High Street, which has nearly been open a year. Pictures: David Bale - Credit: Archant

Kerry Unwin, who runs Eden gift shop in Stalham, reported similarly brisk business.

She said: "We've noticed definitely this year people shopping a lot earlier.

"I think people want things produced in the UK now. I think they've changed their habits.

"People are buying early and giving early. If they see something they like, they buy it, instead of waiting."

Playmobile man outside the toy box in beccles

Dan Lovett, boss of The Toy Box said that classic toys are doing best this year, with jigsaw puzzles, board games, lego and pokemon cards being particularlly popular - Credit: The Toy Box

Dan Lovett, boss of the Toy Box in Beccles said: "Business has been good this year, but we're struggling with stock.

"Suppliers can't guarantee much before Christmas. They say that the might have some deliveries around the second week of December, but we're not guaranteeing anything.

"Most parents have already got all of their Christmas shopping done by that time of the year anyway."

Paul Hammond, butcher at Tony Perkins on Norwich Street, Dereham 

Paul Hammond, butcher at Tony Perkins on Norwich Street, Dereham - Credit: Archant

Dereham butcher, Paul Hammond said it was standard in the industry to begin taking Christmas requests after Bonfire Night. 

But the 40-year-old revealed orders had been flying in throughout October, while buying habits have also changed.

"This year we've started well early - about three weeks ago," he added.

"It's to do with people getting ahead of the game. We've been told we shouldn't have any issues with the supply chain, but people are getting a bit concerned they might not get anything.

"Buying habits have changed a bit because the price of turkey has gone up. People are reverting to a turkey breast joint as opposed to a whole turkey. "

Jacqui O'Donovan, owner of jewellery shop, Vogue, on Norwich Street in Dereham

Jacqui O'Donovan, owner of jewellery shop, Vogue, on Norwich Street in Dereham - Credit: Archant

Jacqui O'Donovan, owner of Dereham jewellery shop, Vogue, said customers were also concerned over the potential re-introduction of Covid restrictions. 

She said: "It's nice to see lots of people coming out, but there are worries from shoppers about what's going to happen with possible lockdowns.

"I've tried to order my stock in already and it's pretty much here, so I can't afford a closure."

Annie Bush, owner of Get Smart in Fakenham, said business in the town had been booming since Covid restrictions eased. 

She believes present buying for Christmas is well under way. 

"We have been busy in general and, despite it still only being October, we have sold a lot of jewellery for Christmas presents; scarves and gloves as well.

“We are hoping to have a really great Christmas, but also we hope people get the Christmas they want as we need something to look forward to with the year we have had.”