Business owners in South Street have spoken of their fear and anger after the latest round of roadworks threatens Christmas trade.
West Sussex County Council announced the city centre road would close from Monday until mid-November to re-pave sections of red brickwork, citing safety as a reason.
A council statement said ‘the work will be finished in time for the city’s Christmas festivities’. But Dave Hockridge, owner of Present Surprise in South Street, said it will negatively affect sales during the festive season.
“People start Christmas shopping at the beginning of October, if not before, so we will be hit by that hard.
“People’s safety is important, but how come this work wasn’t done when the roadworks were delayed at the start of the year?”
In a letter written to the Observer by Mr Hockridge and fellow co-owner Adrian Marden, they said they were ‘incensed at the events of 2016’, which saw South Street closed for five months after gas works were delayed.
They added the road closure and bus diversions meant fewer people walked past the store and deliveries were harder to take in.
They feared the same thing will happen again at their busiest time of year, saying ‘it does feel like some of the small businesses in South Street will struggle to survive through this period’.
A spokesperson for West Sussex County Council said works could not be done concurrently as they conflicted with one another and added staff would be working at weekends and from 7am to 7pm on weekdays to finish the repaving.
The council is also working with Chichester Business Improvement District to ensure all businesses are kept up to date, and West Sussex Highways and Chichester Bid team are producing advertising to be displayed at the work site that would encourage shoppers to visit South Street.
Shelley Joel, assistant manager at Whirligig, said she feared there would be more delays. “We are quieter than the rest of the streets anyway so it is going to affect business. The footfall was horrendous last time.”
Jack Sheppard, who works at Perfect Timing, said: “If it had been possible to do the roadworks together it would have saved some confusion and disruption.”
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