THERE were ‘winners and losers’ for businesses in the borough during the Olympic Games.
Traders in Weymouth and Portland were told to expect a boost to the local economy with significantly more people predicted to come to the area during the two week Games period.
Many of the businesses that did well were close to the sailing crowds or along the route to the Nothe ticketed site, such as the seafront and harbour.
Others in the town centre and other locations said their trading was significantly down during the Games.
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council predicted 60,000 visitors would come to the borough every day throughout the two weeks of sailing events – a total of 840,000.
The council said the actual figure was 500,000 over the two-week period.
David Trickett, chairman of the Rural Dorset branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said there was a mixed response from traders.
He said: “We have had figures back that overall the sailing was a very successful event for us as an area and businesses have reported increases in trade and enquiries.
“On the other hand others have said they didn’t get anything out of it, some retailers on the High Street didn’t sell what they normally would – that’s regrettable but in everything there’s winners and losers.”
Mr Trickett added: “Overall business was up and interest in the area is up and certainly the number of people visiting was way up.
“Something like 75 or 80 per cent of visitors during the Olympics came from outside the county and that meant they spent more money when they were here.
“For food and drink the spending was very nice and certainly pubs and restaurants did well and hoteliers who are members of the federation were fully booked.”
Businesses in the town and beyond suffered a serious blow halfway through the Olympics when the Bayside Festival shut down on August 3 after only seven days of a 17 planned days of operation.
Viv Prince from Magnetic Health said the event should have been an opportunity for the traders and the town but they had all been left feeling let down.
Anna-Maria Geare, Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce president, said the Games were ‘not a brilliant trading period’ but was optimistic about the future.
She said: “It’s not been a boom year but there could be long-term benefits from the showcasing.
“At the beginning there was a problem with people not coming into the town but after that people were coming in droves and there was a good trading period, not brilliant but okay.
“It was not as brilliant as it was made out to be by the council and LOCOG.”
Mrs Geare added: “Our members feel we need to carry on building on the momentum of the Olympics and the exposure of the events, which has been fantastic. With the correct management we have the fantastic opportunity to create a brilliant town for the future.”
Councillor Mike Goodman, leader of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, said business seminars had been held throughout the Games to showcase the area.
He said: “To encourage business development both now and in the future a series of business meetings and seminars were held during the Games at the QinetiQ site at Bincleaves.
“The idea was to present the Weymouth and Portland area as a whole package.”
Traders In ‘Good Locations’ benefited more
MANY harbourside and seafront restaurants and traders reported good sales because they were in a ‘good location’ to pick up the extra footfall from visitors.
Brett Dunster, of Aura Cafe Bar on The Esplanade, said they didn’t want the Games to leave.
He said: “It’s been a brilliant summer for us, it’s not that we’re doing anything anyone else isn’t but we’re in a great location.
“We’ve enjoyed the Olympics and wish it didn’t have to go.
“It hugely increased our trade, we definitely had more customers than the weeks around it.”
Pete Richmond, of Cafe Blue on The Esplanade, pictured, said his business did well with sailing visitors stopping for breakfast on their way to the Nothe Gardens.
He said: “It was good, we were busier than usual for breakfast.”
Helena Boot, of LeftBank, Trinity Road, said the restaurant was 'jam-packed' every evening with visitors.
She said: “It has been absolutely tremendous for us.
“On several days lunchtime was so busy, I only just managed to clean up before re-opening for dinner. All in all, it was a real success for us.”
Brian Jung, of Island Gallery on Portland, said his business had done well because of visitors. He said: “We had a lot of framing for visitors and locals. Our photographs of local scenes were popular with visitors and sailing teams from around the world.
‘A lack of holidaymakers really affected firms'
SOME businesses say their profit was significantly down during the Games because the traditional seaside holidaymakers that they depend on did not come to the borough.
Dave Holder, a self-employed hackney driver, said his business suffered and is not optimistic about the future.
He said: “Over the Olympics I was down 60 per cent.
“It's definitely had a significant effect on my business. It was very quiet.
“It was a rubbish summer, worse than in the winter for those weeks without a doubt.
“The usual holidaymakers stayed away from the area and I think it could take a few years before they have the confidence to come back.”
Mark Bennett, of fish and chip shop Bennett's on the Waterfront, said: “Overall I’d say it had a negative effect.
“It got better in the second week and things have picked up since the Olympics finished.
“There weren’t the regular tourists and holidaymakers that we normally get.”
Dennis Spurr, of The Fantastic Sausage Factory, said his business was 25 per cent down during the Games fortnight.
He said: “I feel we were totally conned.
“We had all these meetings saying how great it would be but it wasn't what we were led to believe by the council.
“Even when the numbers picked up people weren’t coming into the town centre to shop, I’m sure things were good along the Esplanade but not really anywhere else.”
Paul Thompson, of Natural Inspirations, St Mary Street, said during the first week that they were down on last year with fewer customers coming into the shop.