Hastings traders ‘in dire need’ - £200k plea to help them stay afloat

A group of traders in Hastings have set up a campaign to help the town’s battered hospitality industry.

Ian and Karey Gillam, of Southside Wrappers, Matt Pearman, of Goodmans Coffee Spot, and Gemma Dearman, who runs The Good Place, are aiming to raise £200,000 in aid of independent cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs in Hastings.

Organisers of the campaign say poor trade in December caused by Covid and the Omicron wave has left many independent cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs in Hastings ‘in dire need and hanging by a thread’.

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Business owners in Hastings L-R: Gemma Dearman, Matt Pearman and Ian Gillam. SUS-220126-120424001

December is normally a time that hospitality businesses make enough cash to get them through the barren months of January and February. Many hospitality outlets make 25 per cent of their annual revenue during its 31 days.

But when the Government’s Plan B came in last month, with the return of mask-wearing and advice to the public to work from home where possible, many businesses in the town centre suffered.

A Gofundme page has been launched online.

The aim is for the money to be distributed via Love Hastings Ltd.

Ian said: “We are all suffering from December because of the drop in footfall.

“I know numerous businesses and restaurants around town which are on the verge of closing for good.

“We have got a vibrant hospitality scene in Hastings. It’s charismatic and people come to Hastings to literally go out. If we can’t keep that we will lose the trade indefinitely.

“It works as a snowball effect. If we do not get the trade, staff get laid off and they can’t spend money anywhere else. Hospitality is one of the main industries in the UK and if that’s taken out everything else is affected.”

He said his business suffered from a ‘massive loss’ of footfall in December due to the Covid restrictions that were brought back in.

Ian said a lot of his trade came from staff from the Department of Work and Pensions offices in town but 75 per cent of staff started working from home again when the Plan B measures were brought in.

He said: “That hit our trade, especially our lunchtime trade. It absolutely wiped us, affecting 25 to 50 per cent of our takings in December.”

Ian added his business lost £20,000 last year due to Covid restrictions, as he’d been booked up for events which then had to be cancelled.

He added: “Generally we make our money in November and December to survive in January to March, otherwise we are stuck.

“People need to start going out again. Many businesses are on the brink of closure. We need a town centre to be proud of. We have already lost the students because Brighton University left. All these people used to frequent the cafes and bars.”

The Gofundme page can be found at www.gofundme.com/f/save-hastings-pubs-restaurant-bars-and-clubs.