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23 OCT 2009
Mobile phone shop
Address: 43, Shirley High St
Years on the street: 5-6
Number of staff: Three
Manager: Stuart Fairburn
Company service: Seven months

Stuart Fairburn has been manager of Carphone Warehouse for seven months: "Business has done very well to be fair. We are up on last year." Looking at the like-for-like figures, he says the shop is 161% up on sales compared with the same week last year.

He says they're doing better than some other local shops selling mobiles because they offer customer service, as well as a wider range of products - and they've recently had a good promotional deal in a national newspaper.

But one of his employees points out that a recent survey showed people would rather give up a holiday or cut back on going out, than give up their mobile phone. People no longer regard phones as luxuries.

"I will be honest. When the recession first hit, it seemed like the media was making it worse than it was... but I would say I think the recession is on its way out now because people seem to be coming in and spending money."

26 JAN 2009

"Business is better now than it was 12 months ago," says Natasha Hirst, 28, who has been in charge of Carphone Warehouse for two years.

"People always want the latest gadgets."

14 NOV 2008

"We're very, very busy," says Ms Hirst, 28.

Natasha Hint, mobile phone shop manager
Buoyant about business - Natasha Hirst

"Broadband is really the main thing. People see it now as something they have to have like gas and water - it's become a utility. If you haven't got it you're nowhere, never mind the credit crunch. We also offer free laptops so that's really drawing people in - maybe for presents.

"You can do well in tougher times, you've just got to do more. Customer service is our top priority and we have a really good customer base - people recommend us. We've also got a big Polish community round here and we've got a Polish sales assistant, who brings in a lot of his own business and provides specific help to those people.

"We're also able to subsidise more than other retailers - there's an O2 store down the road offering a phone for £100 but we're offering it for free.

"Things are going really well at the moment. Christmas is always busy but our targets have gone up despite the situation with credit. While I'm looking for extra cash for myself, everyone else seems to be fine!"

9 OCT 2008

"We're finding that we're actually doing better than last year," says Ms Hirst. "We're definitely seeing an increase in people taking out contracts - credit basically - rather than pay as you go.

"And people still want the latest phone. They come in and ask about it and I'll say, 'Look, if you wait a few months, the price will have come down and you'll be due an upgrade so you can get it for less.' But they say, 'No', they want it now.

"It's amazing really. I thought people would be cutting back. Our sales targets have been reduced, but I don't think that'll last long the way things are going."

She is feeling the squeeze at home herself, but at work it seems to be business as usual.

"I'm worrying about my mortgage. I'm even thinking about having to get a second job, but other people just come in here and spend."

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