Online shoppers head to Ipswich for big brands like Primark
- Credit: Archant
Big brands like Primark and Sports Direct are one of the biggest draws bringing shoppers into Ipswich, with many admitting they do more online as habits have changed post-pandemic.
While many will browse their favourite brands online now rather than popping into town, customers cannot shop online for Primark, B&M and Poundland bargains and face delivery costs for Wilko and Sports Direct, meaning in-person shopping is the only way to get what they want.
However, destination 'zones' within the town centre are doing their bit to bring shoppers in by offering a mix of retail, hospitality and services including dental treatment and beauty treatments.
Lucy Bayliss, 25, regularly shops online but heads into Ipswich town centre for B&M and Primark.
She said: "I've really dropped into town for a few bits as I shop a lot online.
"I like it when it's quiet in the week than the weekends when it's busy but I work full time."
Rachel Dirilen, from Butley, said: "I do the Primark run for new knickers, chuck the old ones and get new ones.
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"I go to Primark because it's so doable, H&M and JD. I'd love there to be a Zara here.
"All my shopping is online. There are so many bits at Primark, like TK Maxx. I go there a lot. You go in and want to have a look.
"I don't even know what Primark would be like online."
Jill Dibben said: "I'm a big fan of pre-loved shopping, the charity shops.
"TK Max some of those high street shops. I think it would be nice to give some independent shops a chance.
"Any shop would be good. A big High Street brand like Zara. Shopping is more of a hobby for me.
"I love Norwich as it has such as a mix of independent charity and high street shops."
Skye Danielson, a mum, who shops mainly at Argos, B&M, Primark and The Entertainer, said she always has a plan of what she wants before coming into the town centre.
She added: "I normally have in my head where I'm going and head home. Sometimes I go for coffee and it's getting easier now my baby is older but I like my home comforts.
"A big shopping centre would be better, there is not a wide variety in there. If Sailmakers was a lot closer. It would be better on a day like this when it's raining."
Paul Johnson from Needham Market, who often goes food shopping in M&S and clothes shopping in Primark, said: "My only fear in this country is that in the New Year and Christmas a lot of shops will close their doors.
"A shop like Primark would stay open. I'm sure next year would be a lot better than what we went through."
Cathy Frost from LoveOne, a gift shop, has spent 14 years along with other businesses in St Peter's Street trying to make it a "community" destination so independent retailers succeed.
She said: "I think the town centre is not a destination for browsing. People literally go in go to B&M, Primark and M&S. You get in and you get out again.
"There used to be a lot more empty business [in the Saints area]. What happened was we started talking and we started the street markets and we kept that message strong.
"It's been a slow build and started it from the bottom up. It hasn't always been like that. We've worked really hard to make it a community.
"We know that that market has made us become an experience-led destination.
"People don't come for shopping anymore, they come to drink coffee and eat, meet a friend.
"We've got hairdressers, a dentist, beauticians, offices, and we have a lot of people who live around here.
"The amount of business I get from the dentist, they come after to treat themselves.
"I have a bunch of tissues under my till. I'm ready for anything."
The Fair Trade Shop in Upper Brook Street said they have done well but would like there to be more of a push to shop local.
Delly Haseldine, shop manager, said: "It's been hard for local businesses.
"We hope we'll see more people come back to us."
Late-night shopping before Christmas in Ipswich has re-started in the town centre on Thursdays where you can shop local.