Coronavirus crisis turns Ipswich in to ghost town
PUBLISHED: 17:37 17 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:47 17 March 2020
Ipswich has become a ghost town in the wake of the coronavirus crisis - and there are fears the situation will escalate.
The high street is usually awash with shoppers and workers going about their shopping and lunch duties but in the aftermath of the Prime Ministers press conference yesterday the streets today were virtually empty.
Boris Johnson urged the general public to stay indoors where and when possible, and many have taken heed of his isolation advice and are steering clear of public places and built up areas.
Unfortunately, this has had a disastrous effect on the local shops and businesses, especially the smaller independent traders such as Fishface cafe based in The Walk.
Manager Alex Williams has noticed a significant drop in sales since the outbreak but especially in the last 24 hours.
“To put it into perspective, it’s about 12.30pm right now which is our lunchtime rush. The ground floor would normally be full, and upstairs would be half full. Today we’ve had four customers in.”
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Losing at least 50% of a normal day’s trade, Mr Williams has had to shut the cafe an hour earlier each day as it has not been worth remaining open, sending staff home due to lack of revenue to pay wages.
“Just gradually over the last week trade has started deteriorating to the point of reducing staff which is difficult because everyone has their own bills to pay. We’ve already noticed a decrease in the afternoon so instead of staying open until 5pm, we are now shutting at 4pm just until this blows over.”
He continued: “I spend quite a lot of my time at the till looking out of the window and there’s always people going up and down the path, pushchairs fighting to get past each other but as you can see, there’s just one or two people.
“The customers that have come in today have said they’ve basically got the whole of Ipswich to themselves.”
Ipswich market has also suffered a loss in profits and whilst you usually struggle to get through the throng of customers milling around the market stalls, today there was a clear way through with just a handful of people browsing the stalls.
More: Live coronavirus updates here
Jewellery stand trader Annette Harper said: “We haven’t been very busy, at all. I think everyone’s just a little bit worried and standing clear of each other. We’ve absolutely without a doubt seen a massive drop in customers just in the last week, a dramatic drop. They’re just being careful with their money and buying the essentials. If you’re not sure what’s going to happen with your job and your financial situation in the coming months, then you are just going to buy what you need and save your money.”
“I will try my very best to carry on but my husband has got lung problems and my daughter is pregnant so I have to be careful but at the moment I’m being as safe and careful as I can possibly be.”
In the larger stores, shelves are being emptied faster than staff can load them up. From toilet rolls to medication, the shelves are scarcer than ever.
A worker from Wilkinson’s said: “We simply cannot get the stuff out quick enough.”
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