A HOST of major retailers, including Marks and Spencer, and Debenhams, reported their festive trading figures last week, but it didn’t make for pleasant viewing.

The retail sector endured its worst December since the financial crisis, due to a combination of soaring costs and falling consumer confidence.

Marks and Spencer said like-for-like clothing and home sales dropped 2.4 per cent over the 13 weeks to December 29 while comparable food sales also fell by more than 2 per cent.

Debenhams suffered a similarly dismal Christmas period, recording figures that were over three and a half per cent lower than usual due to weaker footfall in their department stores.

So the Leader went out to ask shoppers in Mold and Wrexham how they did their Christmas shopping and whether online shopping is contributing to the falling trading figures on the High Street.

Mary Probert, from Broughton, believes so, saying: “My husband and son shop online but I think that it’s destroying the High Street.”

Lynn Jones, from Buckley, agrees. She never shops online and said: “The internet has a bad effect on the town centres and even the out of town shops are being hit from all sides.”

Despite trusting internet shopping, Becky Brampton, from Mold, prefers to go inside shops, saying: “You can get things much quicker by shopping in stores as there’s no waiting for delivery on items.”

However, Denbighshire county councillor, Martin Holland, from Llanarmon Yn Ial, believes it isn’t online shopping that is damaging the High Street, but rather the supermarkets.

He says: “I don’t use internet shopping, as I like to support the local shops, as well as see the items before I buy them as I hate having to return things in the post.

“When I first moved here there were seven butchers in Mold but now we only have two. That’s more to do with the supermarkets than the internet. The local independent shops have lost out to the bigger stores and supermarkets but they in turn are losing out to the internet.”

In fact, it was Tesco who emerged with some of the most positive trading figures from the festive period, with the supermarket outperforming competitors in all key categories – food, clothing, and general merchandise.

Joanne O’Brien, from Mancot, does much of her shopping online, although she often comes into town with Jane Wiles who doesn’t. She says: “I do a lot of shopping through the internet. Presents, stationary, everything really. A lot of stores are closing down, and the small, independent stores are offering very similar things for the same kind of prices.”

Jessica Holland, from Wirral, also prefers to shop online, but comes into town frequently due to work commitments.

She says: “I work in Mold and shop here on the odd occasion as I like to have a mosey around town. But I do shop on the internet especially before Christmas because I don’t have time to go into town so it’s more about the convenience.”

And there were similar opinions from Wrexham shoppers.

Amy Owens, who attends Coleg Cambria, said: “I shop mostly online. I find it’s cheaper online, but shops are better for last minute presents. While for some things you have to go to the shops, I find it’s easier online as you find exactly what you want.”

But Derek Butler, from Malpas, favours the “great vibe” of a town centre as he believes “it’s about keeping the High Street alive”. He said: “I prefer to go out to the shops. You can go and see stuff and get a coffee with your mates.”

Doreen Jones, 80, from Coedpoeth, has a similar mindset. She said: “I mostly go out shopping in Wrexham, because when buying online you can’t really tell what you’re getting.

“A lot of people don’t want to shop on the high street anymore though because all the shops are closed, and it can be quite off-putting.

“I also usually need someone to show me what to do online!”