Return to growth, but we're not celebrating yet
THE country may have officially climbed out of recession but there was little sign of cheer on one high street in Bristol yesterday.
According to the official statistics the economy has returned to growth after the worst downturn since the end of the Second World War.
But on Bedminster's East Street the majority of business owners are not celebrating just yet.
The south Bristol suburb is one of 12 shopping centres across the country to have been chosen to take part in the Portas project.
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Around £100,000 has been given to help spruce up the area after it was picked as a pilot scheme by shopping guru Mary Portas as part of her nationwide scheme designed to help struggling town and city centres.
But despite the news the mood was still gloomy among traders on the busy street.
Ugur Tunc, right, moved from London to open the Sunshine Cafe just over 18 months ago and he has been struggling to cope with the downturn. He said: "Things have not been good and it feels as though things have got even worse over the last couple of months.
"Things are tough and we are a small independent trader but there is also a lot of competition from other cafes out there. There are new cafes opening all the time but everyone is in the same boat.
"If you talk to other people in other parts of the country they are all in the same boat. Central London is fine but for most other parts of the country for people like us it is really difficult."
Colin Agius runs P and F Meat, an independent butchers shop which is next door to the Sunshine Cafe. He said: "Officially the recession might be over but that is not really the case for us.
"Our business is down by at least a third from when the recession first came along. We have had to make people redundant because we are just not getting the trade that we used to."
He added: "We have to compete against the big supermarkets like Asda. Because they are so much bigger than us they have a lot more buying power and can afford to sell meat a lot cheaper.
"Having said that we do have a lot of loyal customers who always shop with us. What we do find is that people are just spending less money because they don't have it to spend. It has been a real slow couple of months and if anything things are getting tougher."
John Holden owns seven pubs in Bristol including the recently refurbished London Inn at the top of East Street. Although he has recently opened a new pub the businessman says that times are still tough.
He said: "We have been lucky because we offer beer and food at relatively low prices so we have been doing OK in most of our pubs.
"But the fact is that the recession has changed things for good and there are plenty of people out there in the trade who are struggling to keep going.
"We know people who put their life savings into their business and ended up losing the lot."
He added: "The fact is that before the recession came along we were all living beyond our means and people were spending more money than they had.
"I think the recession may be officially over but that is not going to make much difference to the average person in Bedminster.
"Nothing is going to change overnight and it is going to take a very long time to get the economy back to where it was at its peak four or five years ago. What has changed though is that people have become much more realistic.
"They know how much money they have got to spend and as a result people are a lot more careful with their money. There is no doubt that the level of spending has gone down a lot in the last couple of years."
Commentators said the boost in the economy is linked to the Olympics and the millions spent by visitors in the capital over the summer months.
According to the figures from the Office of National Statistics output jumped by one per cent between July and September but saw the fastest growth for five years.
Bur the news came as Ford announced 1,400 job losses and the closure of two UK sites.
Chancellor George Osborne said that the UK was on the right track but there was "still a long way to go".
He said the UK still faced "many economic challenges at home and abroad".
But he went on: "By continuing to take the tough decisions needed to deal with our debts and equip our economy for the global race we're in, this Government is laying the foundations for lasting prosperity."
The largest contribution to the surge came from the powerhouse services sector, which makes up around 75 per cent of the total economy and grew at 1.3 per cent.