‘It’s been a lot busier than expected’ – Ipswich trader on high street return
PUBLISHED: 16:45 20 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:45 20 June 2020
Sarah Lucy Brown
A high street trader said he had been surprised by the number of shoppers who had returned to Ipswich town centre since non-essential retailers were allowed to reopen following the coronavirus lockdown.
Andrew Bavington-Barber, who runs the Hot Sausage Company in Ipswich, Colchester and Cambridge, was speaking on the first Saturday since town centre lockdown measures were eased.
While long queues formed outside some well known high street stores, Mr Bavington-Barber said: “There really are lots of people around – but it’s not like it was before – people are coming into town for a purpose now, only if they really need something.’’
One of the Hot Sausage Food Company’s two carts, a familiar sight in the town centre, returned to the Cornhill on Monday June 15 and Mr Bavington-Barber said it had been a positive start for high street traders.
“It has been a lot busier than I expected – it has been very good for us, we regularly have long queues and people have been adhering to the guidelines really well.
“The thing that works for us is that we’re based outdoors, you can’t socially distance like us in a restaurant. The big name takeaways like your McDonald’s and Burger Kings aren’t open in the town centre either.”
The company, which operates two carts in the town centre, moved to offering delivery and collection from its warehouse during lockdown, which Mr Bavington-Barber said helped keep the business afloat.
He said: “Going from 100% to zero in a matter of days was tough. Really tough. “I had to furlough all my staff when we shut down – it was hard, and of course it was hard for them. But for a business owner, the furlough scheme really has been a godsend.
“Opening up for delivery helped us to pay the bills, but not really anything else. The council were fantastic and gave me a holiday on my rents though, I couldn’t thank them enough.”
Mr Bavington-Barber did add however he fears a post-lockdown economic spike will not last forever.
He said: “But I do think things will change in town – as much as people are coming to buy things, a lot of it is just a novelty for some people as it has been so long. It will wear off, I think.”
“What I really am surprised with though is the lack of people wearing masks, for the most part people are sticking to council and government guidelines, but you really don’t see many masks around.
Shopper Heather Laurie, 22, said she felt safe shopping in the town while taking precautions such as wearing a mask.
She added: “But we’re still being careful because after so long in lockdown it feels strange to see so many people in one place again.”
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