Businesses in North Yorkshire say they are remaining optimistic going into 2024 - despite figures showing a record number of closures across the region last year. 

A study done for the Office for National Statistics figures shows around 2,655 businesses in North Yorkshire ceased trading in 2022 – up from 2,285 the year before, and one of the largest numbers in the North of England.

In his autumn statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a range of tax cuts to aid businesses, including making a tax break allowing firms to cut their bills if they invest in new equipment permanently, in what he claimed was the "biggest business tax cut in modern history".

The Northern Echo: Richmond town centreRichmond town centre (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

On the streets of North Yorkshire on Wednesday (November 29), despite the figures highlighting a struggling picture of businesses in the region, it was far from that - with shops saying that they are enjoying success in the build-up to Christmas. 

John Meynell, who runs Meynell J&H pet and garden supply shop in Richmond, has been part of the heritage of a shop that has been in the North Yorkshire town for 60 years and has seen the business landscape change over time. 

During the last few years, Mr Meynell argues that post-Covid has led to more tourists in places like Richmond, due to 'staycations', which increases footfall for businesses like his on Finkle Street.

The Northern Echo: John Meynell, who runs Meynell J&H pet and garden supply shop in RichmondJohn Meynell, who runs Meynell J&H pet and garden supply shop in Richmond (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

He said: "I think when people could only go on holidays in the UK, they picked destinations like Richmond, which has plenty to do, and they have come back year after year. 

"Some may say that business is declining but not for us - we're doing well, and I think selling garden and pet supplies, people impulse buy in the build-up to Christmas.

"I'm optimistic for the future - and expect much of the same from this year."

A few doors down in Richmond, Dominic Fava, who owns Nourished, believes that the statistics for closures could also include people retiring - and doesn't necessarily mean long-term empty shops.

The Northern Echo: Dominic Fava, who owns Nourished in RichmondDominic Fava, who owns Nourished in Richmond (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Mr Fava, who owns the shop with his partner Tania, took over the business from his parents Pat and Tony, who established The Health Food Shop over 40 years ago in Richmond. 

After such a long line of independent tradition, Mr Fava has urged shoppers to "keep it local" this Christmas.

He said: "People are starting to gear up for Christmas but we haven't seen a slowdown. If we keep it local, independent businesses are supported and that makes a big difference.

"There's a good relationship between independent retailers here - and we want to see Richmond thrive. There are not many empty shop units here, and we are well supported by tourists and locals.

"The nature of business is that businesses open, businesses close and move and rebrand - it's the ongoing cycle and it's just part of business."

The Northern Echo: Ian Rowland-Hill, who owns Tasty Macs on Finkle Street, RichmondIan Rowland-Hill, who owns Tasty Macs on Finkle Street, Richmond (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

The only sector that seems to be suffering in North Yorkshire is the food and hospitality industry, with food businesses saying that they are seeing a downturn in people visiting their venues. 

Ian Rowland-Hill, who owns Tasty Macs, has seen a 40 per cent decrease in business, as people look to curb their spending amid the cost of living crisis. 

The average household energy bill will rise by £94 a year from January after Ofgem increased its price cap in response to rising wholesale prices.

The regulator announced it is raising its price cap from the current £1,834 for a typical dual-fuel household to £1,928 from January 1.

The Northern Echo: Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced several business benefits in his Autumn statement Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced several business benefits in his Autumn statement (Image: PA)

According to Mr Rowland-Hill, the loss of business coupled with rising item costs has led to an 'uncertain future; for his business, which has seen items like cucumbers go from 49 pence to 79 pence each.

He said: "Customers used to visit us three or four times a week, but we'll be lucky to see them twice a week now - people are making those cuts to getting food when they're out.

"The biggest problem is costs and overheads for us and the lack of support from the government.

"They announced an increase in minimum wage but I already pay my three staff over the minimum wage - and any more increases will see costs get too much.

"It is a worry heading into 2024, I hope to keep going but it's a struggle currently - hopefully better days are ahead."

The Northern Echo:  David and Loo Morton from Neeps and Tatties Greengrocers David and Loo Morton from Neeps and Tatties Greengrocers (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Despite the struggle for food businesses, food retailers, such as greengrocers are going from strength to strength, with David and Loo Morton from Neeps and Tatties Greengrocers enjoying a good patch of business. 

The couple, who moved to their Market Place location in 2019 after previously being in another location since 2013, insists that "pushing through" the tough times is the key to the longevity of a business.

Mr Morton said: "With Christmas around the corner, people will get stocked up and we are seeing plenty of business at the moment. 

"Yes - the price of certain items has gone up but we are doing well heading into 2024, and we have an optimistic outlook."

The Northern Echo: Suzie Valentine, from Yesterdaze Vintage on Zetland Road in NorthallertonSuzie Valentine, from Yesterdaze Vintage on Zetland Road in Northallerton (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Meanwhile, across the A1 to Northallerton, businesses there seem to be equally optimistic about the future, although realise that 2024 could bring its fair share of 'issues' for independent trades. 

Suzie Valentine, from Yesterdaze Vintage on Zetland Road in the town, has noted the increase in footfalls, as people look to get a 'preloved gem' this Christmas.

The Northern Echo: Carmel Carrick, who has owned the Zetland Winestore for 24 years in NorthallertonCarmel Carrick, who has owned the Zetland Winestore for 24 years in Northallerton (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Despite having to work 'tirelessly' to promote the business through events, the shop owner believes that independent businesses are thriving at the moment.

She said: "Zetland Road is now the main thoroughfare through to the main street in Northallerton, so we have plenty of people coming down and seeing the shop.

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"We work very hard to put out events and promote the business and to show the antique shop as a destination."

It's a similar story for fellow Zetland Road business owner Carmel Carrick, who has owned the Zetland Winestore for 24 years - is optimistic for 2024, but admits there's "no crystal ball" when it comes to knowing about business confidence next year. 

She said: "With Christmas coming nearer, people want gifts and items from us and business is going well - but no one can be certain so I'm happy with what we have now, but can't look too far down the road because no one knows what will happen. 

"We'll see what next year brings."