ONE of North Wales' major shopping towns is bucking the trend as many UK High Street businesses experience a post-Christmas slump - and there are reasons to be optimistic for another.

In some parts of the country, shopping centres, usually filled shoppers after Christmas, saw the number of customers plunge by almost 50 per cent compared to the same day in 2019.

In places like south Essex, traders and business owners saw a huge drop in business, fearing the Covid pandemic and rising Omicron variant led people to stay home.

However, in Mold, business has been brisk in the first days of 2022.

The success story on 2021, with more than 30 new businesses opening during the pandemic, the future of the historic market town looks bright.

Caroline Johnson, of The Bookshop, said: "We've been very busy with people coming in with book tokens and Christmas money. We re-opened on the 29th and we were very busy on that day."

"We are very optimistic for 2022, based on the support we've had from our customers during the lockdowns and the times in-between.

"We celebrated our 40th anniversary in Mold and are happy to stay.

"There does seem to be optimism, the customers are talking about how good it is to have all the new shops in Mold. There is such a variety of independent shops and different food outlets too."

She added that people had adapted to Covid measures, such as face coverings and distancing, so they were no longer affecting trade.

Joanna Douglass, business and regeneration officer at Mold Town Council, said the variety of independent businesses was one of the reasons's for Mold's current boom.

She said: "Trade in Mold is strong for this time of year. Many have been gifted with ‘Totally Mold Vouchers’ for Christmas and are now enjoying spending these in one or more of the 88 participating businesses in Mold. Totally Mold vouchers is a local voucher scheme to help encourage people to shop local, use local services and look at what Mold has to offer before taking custom outside of the town.

"Totally Mold Vouchers are still available to purchase from they are valid until the 31st August 2022, keeping the money in the local economy.

"Mold has seen the expansion of even more businesses and further new businesses are in the pipeline. There is a fantastic choice of independent businesses alongside national High street names, come and see yourself and enjoy a personalised shopping experience and combine with something to eat and drink in our many amazing deli’s, cafes and restaurants - you will be glad you did."

Wrexham Business Group chairman Ruth Rees, of the Martin Rees Jewellers, said footfall could be better in Wrexham - but there were many reasons to be optimistic.

She said with Wrexham's independent shops being spread out more than in Mold, the challenge was greater.

She said: "It has been busy enough to keep us running around. It has been busier than I expected and we are looking to take on extra staff, so there is reason to be optimistic.

"Some of the feedback I have been getting from other businesses is there is some concern about football, some of the time at least.

"Wrexham Council's Employment, Business and Investment Scrutiny Committee are due to discuss the Covid recovery action plan for Wrexham Town centre today. It would be nice if it was higher.

"We do suffer from the fact that the independents here are spread out. We do have many lovely independents here, and many are doing well and have plans to expand, but some people it's that little bit more difficult to find what they are looking for in Wrexham.

"But there are lots of plans for things going forward with a lot of exciting things. There is reason to be optimistic in Wrexham."

In his report to the committee, Cllr Terry Evans said that "footfall has been increasing consistently above those levels seen in 2020, but remaining short of the 2019 figures. For some sectors, such as food and beverage, hospitality trading has been reasonably strong, as customers have returned once restrictions were removed but retail is still not seeing the benefit of increasing footfall, and it may be due to the fact that online shopping habits are harder to reverse than the more experience-based consumerism.

He adds: "Wrexham Town Centre has experienced a number of significant closures of national chains but growth of small independent retailers remains positive and demand for the council’s units, including market stalls at Tŷ Pawb is strong.

"Before and during the national lockdown there has been positive uptake of the council’s Property Investment and Development Grant that has contributed to some new business openings and / or modifications within Wrexham Town Centre. Other factors though have had an influence during 2021, including cost-inflation and supply chain/labour interruptions that thought to be influencing the timing of developments.

"It is important that the council continues to support interventions on all scales to maximise the opportunities to secure investment to ensure that Wrexham maximises its role as the most significant town centre in North Wales."