Page last updated at 07:49 GMT, Friday, 23 October 2009 08:49 UK
The High Street

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23 OCT 2009
Amusement arcade
Address: 71, Shirley High St
Years on the street: 20+
Number of staff: Four
Manageress: Clare Kimber, 33
Company service: Five years

Julie Randell took over as manager in Shirley a month ago - she had previously worked in another local branch, in Portswood.

In her view it's the no-smoking ban that first caused trade to drop off before the recession hit: "It's definitely been quieter since then".

They get a lot of older customers: "Some of them just come in for the company to be honest, to stay in the warm."

They are still employing the same number of staff - but some are on the minimum wage, which has only gone up 7 pence this year, she points out.

"I think it's going to get worse before it gets better. I think they (the government) tend to cover a lot of it up. There's a whole lot we don't know."

26 JAN 2009

In a day, the Exchange can have anywhere from 40 to 100 customers all looking to hit the jackpot.

Opening hours are long - from 9am to 10pm - and on Sunday it stays open from 10am until 5pm.

The amusement arcade with machines ranging from 5p-a-go to £1-a-go is at its busiest on pay-day Fridays and work-free Saturdays.

Most of the punters are regular faces from those who have just turned 18 to a 92-year-old arcade veteran.

Manageress Clare Kimber worries the arcade may take a slight knock from the recession as people try to save their pennies but she's convinced there will always be custom.

"Gambling's an addiction so you still get your regulars even in a recession. They just don't stay as long," she explains.

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