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Beating the credit crunch: Ham&High traders tell you how!

PUBLISHED: 12:26 25 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:26 07 September 2010

By Tan Parsons THE credit crunch may be hitting businesses, but traders in Hampstead and Highgate say there has never been a better time to go on a spending spree. Hot water bottles to save on heating bills, slap-up meals at cut price and second hand item

By Tan Parsons

THE credit crunch may be hitting businesses, but traders in Hampstead and Highgate say there has never been a better time to go on a spending spree.

Hot water bottles to save on heating bills, slap-up meals at cut price and second hand items are all being hailed as the way forward.

Avril Castellazzo, who runs bespoke furniture shop Walter Castellazzo Design in Highgate Village, is just one trader who has stocked up on goods especially with the financial crisis in mind. To help loyal shoppers save money on heating bills, she has brought in supplies of luxurious cashmere hot water bottles and socks.

"Some of my customers say their husbands have said they aren't allowed to put the heating on until the first frost - which is what my grandmother used to say. So we've brought in these lovely cashmere goods so people can stay warm while still looking cool," she said.

"We've brought in a range of high quality goods at affordable prices - it's really important we give our loyal customers the best service possible."

Krystyna Marioudi, who runs the Nawar boutique in Highgate, says her business is performing well but only because she made changes well in advance.

"I have dropped my most expensive designers and generally it has paid off. I've got a fantastic range of clothes now which is proving very popular," she said.

In Hampstead, too, businesses are feeling the pinch including Sapori Italiani in Haverstock Hill, which has cut down from three staff to two. Manager David Madrid has changed his menu with a touch of dry humour.

"We're now offering customers a 'credit brunch' - an all-in fry up for £4.50," he said. "We find that people are buying themselves fewer treats now - they're shying away from the deli food."

While shoppers are buying fewer luxury goods, the trade in secondhand items is booming - with Marie Curie Cancer Care doing bumper business.

"Two weeks ago I had the best week's turnover since I took over three years ago - we grossed £5,000," said manager Barry Brun-dage. "The sales are almost twice what they were two years ago."

In South End Green, traders have joined together to arrange a week of special offers which ends on Saturday (September 27) in a bid to encourage people to shop locally.

At Susan Wainwright, customers get a free set of mugs when they spend £50 or more. "We have been a little bit more careful with what we are buying," said shop manager Barbara Hoffmann. "But the papers tend to paint a very bleak picture and make out we are all going to starve to death.

"It's not like we are City traders. Generally we have not changed very much - I'm predicting we will have a very strong Christmas this year."

Michael Render sells organic fruit and vegetables at a stall in South End Road. He said: "The price of organic fruit and veg is not all that different to non-organic now. I've started offering people three or four organic bananas for a pound. Normally they find they are much tastier and better.

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