Cost-of-living crisis not hitting high street as badly as first feared

Shoppers hit Ipswich High Street on the Monday November 2nd ahead of the second national lockdown.

Shoppers in Ipswich High Street. - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Businesses in Ipswich have not been hit by the cost-of-living crisis as badly as it was first feared they would be, a town centre leader has said.

According to the latest available data from the Centre for Cities, there was roughly the same level of footfall in the town centre at the end of April as pre-Covid, but those people were spending about 20% more money in town-centre businesses.

And Sophie Alexander-Parker, chief executive of Ipswich Central, said: "Having engaged with town centre businesses they have confirmed that they have started to feel the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, however not to the extent that they had first anticipated. 

Sophie Alexander-Parker Suffolk 100

Sophie Alexander-Parker - Credit: SIMPLY C PHOTOGRAPHY/CHERRY BEESLEY

"This isn’t to say that it won’t get worse as, unfortunately, we cannot predict the future impact this will have.  Many businesses said they are faring well and feeling optimistic, particularly with events like the Big Hoot Trail over the summer, which is expected to bring thousands into the town centre. 

"We are now planning for the festive period which in previous years has been impacted by covid and therefore been tough on businesses. This year we expect that the cost of living crisis will have a significant impact on town centre spending too.  We will do everything we can to support businesses and try to mitigate the impact of the cost of living crisis."

Andrew Bavington-Barber, who has run the Hot Sausage Company for more than 30 years and describes himself as a "little barometer" for the high street, said he had not seen a fall in demand from hungry shoppers.

Andrew Babington-Barber has been selling hot suasages in Ipswich for more than 30 years

Andrew Bavington-Barber has been selling hot sausages in Ipswich for more than 30 years - Credit: NEIL PERRY

He said: "At the moment it really hasn't affected us in Ipswich so much. It seems pretty steady still, in spite of what is going on.

"I don't know if it is because of where we're placed in the market, or whether we're quite a strong local brand and people our staying loyal.

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"Our trade is still holding up."

However, Mr Bavington-Barber said he has felt the pinch due to increased costs.

"I'm forever cautious," he said. "I don't take anything for granted. Our costs have gone up significantly which makes it hard to manage bills, but as long as the customers keep coming – we're happy."