National lockdown in run up to Christmas is ‘alarming’ say shop owners
PUBLISHED: 14:41 31 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:06 31 October 2020
Sarah Lucy Brown
Independent business owners in Ipswich are worried about the impact another lockdown could have on their trade in the run up to Christmas – as the nation awaits the Prime Minister’s announcement today.
The Prime Minister is expected to announce a four week national lockdown when he addresses the nation later this afternoon, which would see non-essential shops ordered to close, but schools and universities remain open.
MORE: Boris Johnson to address nation after reports of second lockdown
Cathy Frost, who is the owner of Loveone in St Peter’s Street, which is celebrating its 13th year on Monday, said she is “not surprised” about the expected lockdown.
“I kind of wish we had done this earlier, because for a lot of small businesses this is our moment of the year, where we make the money to get us through the quiet bits,” she said.
“I held off buying Christmas items as I thought we may go into lockdown, then we went into the tiered system so I bought for Christmas and it now looks like we are back to square one.
“I am really quite frustrated, a little bit angry and it feels too late. We should have done this before half term and tried to nip it in the bud weeks ago.”
She said that the whole of St Peter’s Street, which is made up of independents, has worked hard to make it safe and welcoming.
“It felt like people’s confidence was beginning to creep back,” she said.
Loveone has an online shop and Cathy says she will continue to trade through the lockdown if it happens, but admits this will be difficult.
She added: “We are a high street business and we want to be on the high street.”
Antonio Bellini, who owns The Italian Shirt Shop just a few doors down, said he doesn’t feel a second lockdown is necessary.
He said: “The news of a second lockdown is horrible for me. I am not qualified to know but I don’t feel it is necessary. I literally have one person in the shop at a time and I am lucky if I have four or five customers a day. The risks are very low here and I keep the windows wide open all the time.
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“I’ve just bought over 300 coats and jackets for winter, investing 10,000 euros in clothes which are now going to sit on the shelves. The same thing happened in the summer.
“It is possible the Government may give us 60% of our profit, but I don’t want help, I want to work and I want to give, I don’t want to take.
“We can’t just close up and just take money from the air, it’s got to be found somewhere and the only way it can be found is by us trading and paying taxes.”
Mr Bellini said he was shocked to see pictures emerging of crowds in the streets in Soho, adding that Ipswich was not acting in the same way.
“If you go along the Waterfront at bars like Isaacs, its like the Gestapo out there, they are not letting too many people in. Everyone is doing what they are told to do in this town.”
Mr Bellini said that a four week closure would make an £8,000 difference at this time of the year – and would mean he would not make any profit this year.
Meanwhile, Johnny Herbert, who has owned Cromwells antiques in St Nicholas Street for the last five years, said the news of a second lockdown is worrying.
“It is alarming,” he said.
“But there is not much we can do about it, although it does feel a bit too little too late.
“People are extremely anxious to have heard the leaked news this morning and so the shop has been very quiet.
“It is so unfair that they keep people hanging on as we knew it was inevitable, but we just need time to prepare.
“How it will impact my business depends on whether the Government is able to give any help at all. If there isn’t any help from them, I will have to turn to online sales.”
Johnny has a Facebook page set up, but currently has little presence online. He said this may have to change, depending on how long the lockdown is for.
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