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Businesses shut up shop early to allow their employees and customers to get home

PUBLISHED: 14:51 28 February 2018 | UPDATED: 14:51 28 February 2018

Ipswich town centre was much quieter than normal at lunchtime. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Ipswich town centre was much quieter than normal at lunchtime. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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Shops and businesses closed down early yesterday afternoon to allow their employees and customers to head home early as the Siberian weather began to bite.

Ipswich town centre was much quieter than normal at lunchtime. Picture: PAUL GEATERIpswich town centre was much quieter than normal at lunchtime. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Ipswich town centre resembled a ghost town with some of the stores a lot quieter with conditions underfoot providing people with a challenge.

In Bury St Edmunds the picture was much the same as businesses tried to encourage shoppers out of the cold into the warmth of their stores.

Paul Simon, communications manager at the Suffolk Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said there was evidence that many employers were allowing their staff to work from home to save them from journeying to their workplace.

“But businesses seem to be coping as well as they can and being as flexible and agile as possible by working by alternative means depending on the sectors where they are based be it in manufacturing or retail.

One Ipswich senior citizen was covered by snow Giles Circus looking very cold. Picture: PAUL GEATEROne Ipswich senior citizen was covered by snow Giles Circus looking very cold. Picture: PAUL GEATER

“Those who have face to face businesses will be in need of staff but again they are being flexible as to when their staff start and finish their day’s work.

“Many people are working remotely and by using mobile technology but it just emphasises how Suffolk really does need far more robust broadband and there should not be any ‘not spots’ for 3G and 4G in the county.

“We heard that the Ipswich road system was coping the best it could but that Bishop’s Hill was challenging and that people were doing the best they could and that most of them could carry on as normal working remotely from home or elsewhere.

“Suffolk is very resilient and agile.”

One Ipswich senior citizen was covered by snow Giles Circus looking very cold. Picture: PAUL GEATEROne Ipswich senior citizen was covered by snow Giles Circus looking very cold. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Meanwhile, Mark Cordell, the chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds, the business improvement district for the town, said traders were criticising the media hype over the weather earlier in the week which had detered people coming to the town and that people were staying at home or going to supermarkets.

“It’s a bit like the forecast that never comes,” he said.

“If you can’t get in because of the snow it’s going to be a bad day’s trading which is a shame because Wednesday is the second busiest day of the week.

“A small number of the independent businesses are closed but all the nationals are open and I think it very much depends on where the staff are coming from. Some will make the effort to get to work and others will not.

“I think that the large majority of shoppers on a Wednesday are over 60 and of course they are more likely to not want to come out.

“Hopefully the weather will not be as bad tomorrow (Thursday) but it starts again on Friday but there are some benefits for traders as a couple were advertising sledges and may well lead to some clothing shops selling some last minute winter wear as they will be getting in their Spring ranges soon.”

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