I refer to the recent letter (Dec 28 2019) from Mr Higgins regarding the news that Boxing Day retail sales are down again.

Mr Higgins refers to 'large areas having no bus service'.

The main areas of population of south Dorset have seven-day-a-week bus services, ie Portland, Littlemoor, Dorchester etc and Monday to Saturday bus services to Hereford Road, Chickerell and Preston.

Mr Higgins's letter seems to suggest the reason for poor Boxing Day retail sales is due to the bus service. The key reason why many retailers are finding it hard, is due to the amount of trade which now takes place on the internet, with the likes of Amazon.

This e-commerce also has an effect on the demand for the number of bus trips people wish to take for shopping.

For Boxing Day 2019 we actually provided more buses than we did for Boxing Day 2018, and despite this, the number of passengers carried were less than in 2018.

It is always going to be a challenge for us to operate additional services when there is free parking in the town centre on Boxing Day and in the run up to Christmas.

However, in partnership with Weymouth BID, we did provide bus services on New Year's Eve with departures until the early hours of New Year's Day coupled with the services being free after 8pm, allowing those celebrating the new year to get home by bus.

Marc Reddy, Managing Director, FirstBus Hampshire, Dorset & Berkshire

First Hampshire & Dorset Ltd, Empress Road