It has been a poor Christmas in Hyndburn for many shops and traders.
The cumulative effects of the economy, the weather and the rise of online shopping all made for a Christmas nightmare for many retailers across Hyndburn, although there were some signs of life.
But all retailers are facing a tough start to the year as they begin to feel the effects of the VAT increase.
Vice president of Hyndburn chamber of trade Ian Smith, who runs a cooked meats stall in Accrington Market Hall, said: "It’s been a poor Christmas.
"I’d say it was down to the economy and the weather. The snow came at a bad time.
"Speaking to people on the market, it seems like people have done a lot of online buying this Christmas.
"I’d say I was about 25 per cent down on last Christmas. Hopefully it’ll pick up, but the rise in VAT is certainly going to have an effect."
He added that the move to six day trading at Accrington Market Hall had had mixed results for traders.
He said: "On the whole the move to six day trading has been poor for me, but some have done okay."
Managing director of Oswaldtwistle Mills, Boyd Hargreaves said: "The cold winter and heavy snow fall in peak trading has certainly not helped matters. The reality is that for the vast majority of retailers including ourselves will be coming out of Christmas with reduced profits.
"Underlying the adverse weather the economy is certainly realising the effect of government spending cuts that bring about planned job losses and reduction in consumer confidence which has stifled spending.
"We had moved from being in a positive position at the end of September 2010 to a slight negative at the end of December when comparing year on year turnover."
He added that the coming months would be tough for retailers, but he expected the Mills to fare better than most.
He said: "The economic forecast for the first three quarters of 2011 is going to be tough but those retailers that can get over this period should be in a good position to reap rewards as the economy improves. I expect we will fare well again during this period of uncertainty due to our diverse offering."
President of Hyndburn chamber of trade Phil Bond agreed that Accrington had struggled over Christmas.
He said: "I think the weather hit us badly. At least last year the snow came after Christmas, but getting it prior to the peak season made it that little bit tougher.
"A lot of people have not been able to get out and about.
"I think a lot of traders have found it a little difficult this year. It's a number of factors, it's not just the weather or the economy. Events have conspired to make it hard. We’ve got a lot of things going for us in Accrington, such as free parking and a very loyal customer base. There's still plenty of reasons to shop here."
And Arndale Centre manager Zain Kiyani said that the number of shoppers visiting the centre had actually increased from last year.
He said: "I’ve had no complaints whatsoever from people in the centre saying we’ve not traded well.
"We were 2.2 per cent up on footfall in the centre from last year for the week over Christmas, that means we were 824 customers up on last year. What’s really helped is the Christmas decorations and the promotions we’ve been doing with our new website.
"Also, with the bad weather the fact that we’re indoors has been an absolute godsend."