AN ALTON-based glass artist says she feels “hopeless” and is considering winding up her micro-business after a huge drop-off in sales fuelled by the cost-of-living crisis.

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) retail sales data published last Friday revealed there was a 1.4 per cent monthly jump in retail sales in April – despite the highest inflation rate in 40 years.

On the face of it, this represents a boost for high-street and online retailers, which the ONS believes could be down to people staying in to save money.

However, with April’s rise driven mostly by an increase in supermarket sales, many retailers tell a different story, and glass artist Esme Marshwitch, owner of Alton-based The Glassy Witch, expressed disbelief at the ONS figures.

She said: “I’m surprised this data is so strong. People are understandably spending what money they do have on food and are staying in.

“It all feels entirely hopeless right now.

“Sales have been the sum total of nil over the past month. It’s disappointing but hardly surprising.

“Many people are having to decide between getting to work or buying food and what I make won’t help with either of those things.

“I am considering winding up my micro-business because trying to do all the right things, with insurance, accountants and so on, is actually costing me pretty much everything I’ve managed to make.

“I can no longer afford new materials either, or the fuel to collect them, and postal-cost increases are another massive blow.

“I can’t even sell off my tools or supplies right now, because no-one can afford to pay a fair price for them.”

Esme is a mosaic, stained and fused glass artist – see examples of her work online at or find The Glassy Witch on Facebook and Instagram.