A POPULAR department store in Largs is hoping for a better 2021 - despite starting the year back in lockdown.

Wilkies in Largs brought their Boxing Day sale forward to beat looming restrictions and say they ended 2020 on a good footing after a surge in support from local people.

Bosses say they hope that backing will continue when the doors are allowed to reopen.

It is a positive turnaround from seven months ago when the head of Wilkies in Scotland told the News she had fears for the future of the business.

Largs Wilkies manager Alison McDonald said: "We certainly enjoyed the additional footfall before Christmas.

"We have now launched online but as people were unable to go to the big shopping centres, we seen a lot of new customers visiting.

"We stock casual everyday clothes, which have proved popular. It is all trainers, boots and loungewear thanks to lockdown.

"We did pretty well to get plenty of good stock in early and people responded.

"Going back into lockdown presents fresh challenges, but hopefully we will be back able to trade before too long."

Assistant Margo Behan said: "We noticed a big difference when the likes of Ayr and Glasgow were initially shut down, with more locals choosing to shop local. That was great to see.

"It definitely made a big difference. We started out sale earlier than normal too so took advantage of that footfall.

"There has been a big drive to support local - hopefully it continues through 2021."

Earlier this year we reported the Bath Street store was under threat of closure - as the News revealed the company was 'fighting for its future'.

Businesses with multiple branches said they were in danger of collapse due to the way coronavirus support grants were being distributed in Scotland.

Wilkies has 14 outlets across the country and has been trading for almost 125 years.

The Scottish Government made it clear that all retail businesses will receive 100 per cent rates relief until March 31, with local MSP Kenneth Gibson telling the News that the likes of Wilkies, as well as many others, would benefit from that.

Wilkies re-opened in July after lockdown and currently employs ten staff in Largs. It is unknown when the store will be able to trade again due to new restrictions.