Bells are ringing
CROWDED town centre streets and a full Ravenside car park are marking the final days of Bexhill's Christmas shopping spree.
Many of the big stores are following the national trend of slashing prices to compete with internet buying.
The small independents, many of whom make a large part of their annual profit at Christmas, are optimistic of a good season.
Steve Willard, manager of Hamptons menswear shop in St Leonard's Road, said: "The rush just seems to start later and later every year. Maybe it's the pre-Christmas sales people are waiting for"
He said: "I think people are going out of town to be honest - when you consider that local businesses are being outnumbered by charity shops one to three people aren't wanting to give second hand stuff for Christmas."
With Hastings and Eastbourne both offering shopping complexes, Bexhill has to be able to offer something different to ensure the survival of local businesses and a profitable Christmas.
Alison Mills at Mr Floor in Western Road said she had been "pleasantly surprised and very busy."
"We sell unusual items that aren't available in big multiple stores, and so people come here. Our jewellery dolls have been selling very well, because they're a bit different and perfect as gifts".
Carly Allis, owner of Ye Olde Chocolate Shoppe in Western Road said business was "fantastic, we couldn't fault it"; she thought this year was better than last, with hand-made chocolates being a major high seller, because "customers can pick and choose what they want".
Iain Stanley at Drays Electrical Shop said new interest in technology has prompted customers to buy more items.
The store was "very busy, particularly LCD television screens, they've really captured people's imagination and they're wanting flatscreens in their droves."
Simon Davis, the owner of Oasis cafe which opened in St Leonards Road in August, said the festive season had really picked up since the weekend: "We're all happy and soups have become even more popular with the colder weather."
Dawn Vitler of Bexhill Linens said: "This last week we've been really busy, better than last year. We just can't pinpoint why - perhaps people are treating themselves instead of the family!"