'We expected to be out by this point': Leeds shop owners reveal how Brexit has affected them

Natalie Entwistle, 47, from Carvley, co-manager of Our Handmade Crafts
Natalie Entwistle, 47, from Carvley, co-manager of Our Handmade Crafts
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Independent shops in Leeds say the chop and change over Brexit deadlines through the year is affecting their trading.

The owners of several local Leeds city centre stores say factors like the drop in value of the pound and reduced consumer spending has affected them, while the ever-shifting Brexit deadline has made it difficult to plan ahead.

OK Comics in Briggate

OK Comics in Briggate

With the situation surrounding Brexit still unclear, independent shop owners around Leeds are preparing their businesses ahead of the UK’s withdrawal.

One such shop is comic bookstore OK Comics, in Briggate, where manager Jared Myland, 44, from Crossgates, says the uncertainty of when the UK will actually leave is what has affected his shop the most.

“We’ve been preparing for it for a little while, we expected to be out by this point.

“When we didn’t leave it affected us as well because we reduced our spending, reduced the amount of stuff we were carrying in anticipation of the first time we were supposed to leave.

“Most of what we stock is imported from the US, so as the pound drops against the dollar, it means our stock costs goes up and that’s before we’ve even left.

“So most fun stuff like books, CDs, nights out, I think are going to be the businesses that are really hit. Nothing that we sell is essential, it’s just for fun."

Co-manager at gift shop Our Handmade Crafts, based in Leeds Grand Arcade, Natalie Entwistle, 47, says that the artists whose crafts they sell are having to reconsider where they buy their materials from.

She said: “We’re an overall business of lots of little ones, so it’s more that the people whose items we sell are having to prepare for it and we’re the hub where they put their stuff.

“It’s more affecting the materials they're buying already, before anything has even happened. Stuff like increase in prices for what they would normally buy, it seems like it’s already hit them before it’s even happened.

“I know there is a lady who uses brass for her craft and I know the materials she’s going to get are gonna cost her a lot more because they are made outside of the UK."

Meanwhile, Ian Feasey, 58, manager at record shop Relic Records in New Briggate believes that the amount people spend on luxury items has been declining for the past few years.

“I think luxury spending has naturally been curtailed and it’s just one of those things that happens. I think it’s been going on for the last two or three years.

“I don’t think the climate is great for businesses that are non-essential.

“Our main market is wondering what the future has in store. We’re doing all right, I can’t say we’ve seen a huge fall, and we’re not down big from how it was last year, but I do feel there is a feeling of that about.”