Welwyn Hatfield reaction to VAT rise

THE January sales are under way – but will 2011 be the same as years gone by?

On Tuesday, January 4, VAT was increased to 20 per cent, meaning shoppers, while still saving money, are spending more than they usually would.

So what do retailers in the street make of the tax hike?

Anup Shah, manager of Cube clothing store in Howardsgate, WGC, and said Christmas sales had so far been “a bit better than last year”.

“At the moment we’re just marking down last year’s prices anyway, so it probably won’t affect us until February,” Mr Shah said.

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“People are going to be spending more on everything, not just clothes.

“It’s going to be a tough year, with VAT and National Insurance going up.

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“We’ve had a good run up to Christmas, but the next few months are going to be difficult.”

Fellow clothes store manager Asir Mohamed, from Tabrizi in Wigmores North, said: “I think the VAT increase isn’t going to make a big difference.

“We’re quite competitive anyway – we’re cheaper than the West End, so we might be able to swallow up the two-and-half per cent. It’s not going to be easy, but so far we’ve done better than last year.”

When the rise was announced back in June, Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Tim Hutchings suggested the increase might create a “mini-boom” before the new year, as shoppers took advantage of the last few days of a 17.5 per cent VAT rate, rather than the stable growth the Government was hoping for.

Speaking to the Welwyn Hatfield Times this week, Mr Hutchings remained cautious.

“The indications at the moment are that sales have gone fairly well, whether or not that’s because of the VAT isn’t clear.”

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