BUSINESSES are booming in Bridport as traders and hoteliers tell of record sales following months of severe storms.

Scores of people headed to West Bay harbour over the Easter bank holiday weekend to enjoy the sunshine, with one harbour business reporting a trade increase of 400 per cent compared to last month.

Despite a wet day on Sunday resulting in the first ever cancellation of the Easter Bonnet Parade in Lyme Regis, bank holiday Monday was welcomed with sunny weather throughout west Dorset with temperatures topping 15 degrees Celsius.

The increase in bank holiday trade has also led to high hopes for a successful summer.
Kim Hagley and Christophe Dupuy of The George pub have seen a 400 per cent increase in trade over Easter.

Christophe said: “We took over The George in October last year and had a tough time with the storms, even helping those evacuated out of their homes with somewhere to stay.

“Now over Easter, we never in a million years thought our trade would be this good – it’s better than we could have imagined.

“We have recently refurbished six of our nine guest rooms and had a trial run of having people stay on Friday – which was also really successful.”

Becky Black, manager of The Watch House, said business had been a good sign of things to come for the summer.

She added: “Even in the rain on Sunday people were looking for somewhere to come so in fact we were very busy then too.”

The Harbour Newsagents, Anchor’s Aweigh and JB’S on the harbour also told of positive trading and long queues on Monday.

Sam Good, landlord of The West Bay pub, said trade has been brilliant this Easter.

He added: “People have been locked away all winter and even more so with the severe storms and weather.

“As soon as we have good weather, like the bank holiday Monday, people are of course going to come out and enjoy it.

“We did have some rain on Sunday but overall Easter trade has been good.”

Pam Middlemast, of Bredy House B&B in Bridport, pictured left, said trade is very weather dependent.

She added: “Easter is so close to the May bank holiday that even more people may be holding out until then – so let’s hope for some further warm weather.”

Events and exhibitions boost tourism

Timothy Hunt, chairman of the Bridport Business - the town's chamber of trade and commerce - labelled the town as a growing attraction with a unique range of facilities.

He added that a number of factors attract new and repeat visitors including the increased number of regular events and exhibitions, the high level of hospitality by businesses and the growing success of the street markets on Wednesdays and Sundays.

He said: “Clearly the earlier adverse weather had some negative effect on many of our businesses and visitors to the town.

“However, we have had a significant number of members reporting a very busy Easter period - but the real measure of trade is that experienced at the end of each trading year.”