Ipswich business leaders delighted as shoppers return to town centre

PUBLISHED: 16:19 15 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:19 15 June 2020

Shoppers turned out in force on the first day of shops reopening.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Shoppers turned out in force on the first day of shops reopening. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Sarah Lucy Brown

The company that manages businesses in the heart of Ipswich breathed a huge sigh of relief as shoppers turned up in droves to find some retail therapy after three long months of lockdown.

Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central, said re-opening non-essential shops in the town centre had gone better than anyone could have imagined after queues built up outside some popular stores like Primark long before they opened their doors on Monday.

He said: “You never know exactly what is going to happen – but what we have seen in Ipswich today is as good as we could have hoped. People obviously feel safe in the town centre and have turned out to show how much they want to visit the shops that we have here.

“And what is especially pleasing is that people have come into town and spent some time here going to different shops. We had thought that most people would just come in, go to one shop that they wanted to visit, and go out again. But it seems as if people are hanging around here.

“That’s excellent news because there really aren’t any food and drink retailers open apart from the sausage stall. It certainly suggests people do want to come out into the town – and that they feel safe when they get here.”

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He said Ipswich was following the trend of other medium and large towns across the country: “We’ve heard that many have been doing well with local residents having the confidence to come back – it is the large centres where shoppers are a bit more nervous and be waiting to see what happens.”

Ipswich market will be operating again on Tuesday – and will be looking more like its normal self. Catchey’s Fruit and Veg – the largest stall on the market – will be back for the first time since the lockdown.

Owner Mick Catchpole said: “I’ve been down here today (Monday) just to see how many people there are in town to try to work out what it will be like. I’m really pleased to see so many people – we’ll be back on Tuesday and I’m really looking forward to getting going again.”

MORE: All you need to know about shops reopening

Some market stalls selling food have been operating since the start of May – but more are expected to be operating this week and that should herald a busier time for the town centre as a whole over the next few months.

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