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‘People feel safe’ - Ipswich footfall continues to rise as shoppers return

PUBLISHED: 06:58 28 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:02 28 September 2020

Shoppers returning to Ipswich high street in August, before the latest curfew and restriction tightening announcements  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Shoppers returning to Ipswich high street in August, before the latest curfew and restriction tightening announcements Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Sarah Lucy Brown

Growing numbers of people visiting Ipswich compared to lockdown levels show that “people feel safe to use the town centre”, a council leader has said.

Shoppers have been adjusting to socially distanced in Ipswich town centre but the government's 10pm curfew has hit high street recoveries  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNShoppers have been adjusting to socially distanced in Ipswich town centre but the government's 10pm curfew has hit high street recoveries Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

However, Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere said that while the latest figures - which show 290,102 people visited in August, compared to 98,185 in April - are positive, the economy “does still need our individual and collective support”.

Footfall in the town centre, measured by a number of council-operated sensors, has been steadily rising since its April low point - when all but essential stores were ordered to close.

In May, 135,429 people visited Ipswich town centre, rising again to 184,220 in June as more places were given the green light to reopen and 241,620 in July.

MORE: More shoppers return to Ipswich - but footfall still down on pre-lockdown levels

Ipswich town centre was deserted during lockdown - but footfall has steadily been rising since. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNIpswich town centre was deserted during lockdown - but footfall has steadily been rising since. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The sensors only measure how many people walked through the town centre and does not give an indication of how many of those actually stopped to shop.

Footfall for last month was also more than 60,000 down on last year, with 353,292 people in the town centre in August 2019.

However, Mr Ellesmere said: “Numbers using our town centre and our car parks have been picking up over the summer – as shown by the data we are releasing today – and life has been returning to some kind of normality with all the town’s schools re-opening.”

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Car park stays have risen from 4,347 in April to 46,347 in August - but are less than half the 98,592 car park stays in August 2019, suggesting more people are leaving the car at home to walk or cycle to Ipswich instead.

“The council and our partners have been receiving positive feedback that people feel safe to use the town centre due to general compliance with the rules on social distancing and face coverings,” Mr Ellesmere added.

However, he said: “The data is encouraging but the local economy does still need our individual and collective support.”

He said recent scientific evdence presented by the government showed a sharp rise in cases.

While Suffolk has seen a lower rise than other parts of the country, he urged residents and visitors not to be complacent.

OPINION: ‘Government hasn’t done enough to slow spread of second wave,’ warns Ipswich council leader

“Whilst the changes the prime minister announced may not have been as widespread as some expected, that makes it all the more important that we do stick to the new rules,” Mr Ellesmere said.

“Over the coming weeks we will play our role - with key partners including the police and the county council – to ensure that the new rules are enforced and that appropriate guidance and advice is provided to residents and businesses.

“This will be made much easier if people do the basics and follow the rules in the first place. In doing so we will collectively save lives.”


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