A WOMAN who has spent almost a decade working along Bradshawgate has praised the "lovely people" of Leigh who have kept her business going.

Launching her balloons and gift shop 'Party Central' back in 2014, Lisa Smith is acutely aware of the challenges that have faced Leigh town centre in recent years.

With the cost of living crisis and pandemic coming after a gradual shift away from high street shopping and a general lack of investment, Lisa's business has struggled with a declining level of footfall in Leigh.

However, it is thanks to the support of Leythers and her returning customers that she has been able to survive; something which she is keen to point out.

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Leigh Journal: Party Central sells lots of balloons, gifts, and party productsParty Central sells lots of balloons, gifts, and party products (Image: Leigh Journal)
Speaking about the business in recent years, Lisa said: "Covid was tough for us because we obviously had to close but didn't sell online, so when we came back it seemed like people had started to shop elsewhere.

"It's so tough to compete with businesses online too because the price they can offer is ridiculous.

"But I do have a lot of loyal customers who love coming in and seeing what we offer.

"We are still getting new people coming in too, and it can be a really nice job at times because we are helping customers celebrate weddings, birthdays, or other events."

Leigh Journal: Example of more products inside Party CentralExample of more products inside Party Central (Image: Leigh Journal)
As a business owner in Leigh over the past decade, Lisa feels the town is in desperate need of investment after shop fronts have fallen into disrepair, market trade has declined, and nightlife has dwindled compared to what it once was.

Although she isn't completely convinced with the council's regeneration plans, she is hopeful that the multi-million pound investment will improve the town centre for residents, shoppers, and businesses.

She added: "The town definitely needs investment and hopefully this works because Leigh used to be a really thriving market town.

"Things have been difficult and I haven't put my prices up like I should have during the cost of living crisis, but Leigh is a lovely town with lovely people, so I'm just grateful for the support of my customers and the girls who work with me."

Leigh Journal: Party Central, on Bradshawgate in Leigh town centreParty Central, on Bradshawgate in Leigh town centre (Image: Leigh Journal)