Final countdown - England fans boost economy with 'feelgood factor'
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
As people in Ipswich and across the area prepare to cheer on England in the Euros final tonight, the match is bringing a huge boost to local businesses.
Pub managers and business chiefs say the national side's success has brought back a feelgood factor - and is the perfect tonic after a year of lockdowns.
After the hospitality industry was hard-hit by Covid-19, there is now a very different feeling in the air, even though pubs are still observing restrictions.
But it's not just pubs which are celebrating. Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central, said: "Hospitality and leisure are getting a big boost, which they really needed. But there's also a feelgood factor for businesses in general."
He said all kinds of businesses around the town were benefiting from team's success in terms of increased sales. "It is putting more money in tills."
Venues showing the Wembley final between England and Italy on big screens have seen seats snapped up fast.
Ashley Dietrich, manager of the Swan and Hedgehog pub in Ipswich, said England's success had definitely helped pubs.
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He said: "We are all booked up for tomorrow.
"It's really brought back the buzz and the atmosphere we used to have here, even though there are still regulations."
Isaacs on the Quay in the town, where ecstatic fans have enjoyed watching England's path to the final, is also completely sold out for Sunday.
Isaacs was getting in the mood on Saturday with a warm-up gig by aptly-named The Kicks.
Its sister venue, Briarbanks Brewery in Ipswich, is also sold out. Briarbanks bar manager Dan Hydes said they had created extra space for the event with more tables, but they wer now all full.
"We are really looking forward to it. I think pubs everywhere needed this.
"It has helped everyone's business and it is lovely to see the smiles back on people's faces."
At the Railway Tavern in Saxmundham, regulars have special T-shirts ready for the big match. The pub, managed by Paul and Julie Summers, pinned the flags of all 24 competing nations to its ceiling as the tournament got under way.