‘Support your shops before it is too late’
THE owner of the UK’s largest independent toy retailer has urged Jersey’s community to get behind its town centre shops ‘before it is too late’.
Gary Grant, who owns the multi-million pound toy shop chain The Entertainer – which has a branch in Bath Street – said Islanders needed to understand it was a case of ‘use or lose’ their local shops as the high street continued to face the growing threat from internet shopping.
Mr Grant said: ‘You’ve got exactly the same problem in Jersey as in the UK. The high street is under pressure and it is a case of use it or lose it.
‘If people carry on using the internet to the extent that internet shopping is growing, you will kill off your community and your high street.
‘That’s because you only need to take ten per cent of the turnover off the high street and the 90 per cent that is left means you’ve got shops that are not viable and then you have store closures.
‘So many Jersey retailers over the last five years have sharpened up their proposition in the way in which they are marketing to the local Island community. I am saying, “Come on Jersey’s community, use your local shops” because when they close and you are disappointed, it will be too late.’
He added: ‘The other thing about importing from the internet is that you are not putting anything back into the Jersey economy.’
Mr Grant, who opened the Jersey branch of The Entertainer in 2012, insisted: ‘I’m speaking as an outsider who loves Jersey. Whatever you buy, if the profits are going abroad, if there’s no GST being paid and no local employment, the Island economy will be more challenged from a retail perspective.
‘If you end up with a lot of your shops closing, choice will diminish.’
He said there was no reason for Islanders to do the majority of their shopping online.
‘I’m sure you are getting fair pricing and a great range from your high street shops, and you will undoubtedly get good customer service in Jersey.’
Last week the results of the Jersey Retail survey, which was commissioned by the States, found that more than 60 per cent of Islanders would favour all shops in Jersey being able to open on Sundays. The Jersey Chamber of Commerce has backed the deregulation of Sunday trading.
However, Mr Grant said one of the elements that made Jersey special was the fact that the town had largely resisted Sunday trading.
‘There is so much that is special about Jersey, but seven-day trading changes the atmosphere and culture of places because it’s seven days at the same pace of life – the busyness, the cars, the traffic,’ he said.
‘There’s something nice about the “Jersey Way” and you’ve got amazing beaches and a really good range of stores.’
Mr Grant will be the subject of the JEP’s Big Read on Saturday.