‘I feel like a shopkeeper again’ - independent store owners delighted to finally reopen
PUBLISHED: 13:57 20 June 2020
Independent traders in Ipswich have spoken of their delight at being able to reopen their doors after the coronavirus lockdown forced them to shut up shop for three months.
All non-essential shops in England were permitted by the government to reopen on Monday as restrictions have been eased in recent weeks.
On Monday, nearly 10,000 people visited Ipswich town centre - with the number of shoppers visiting the high street slowly climbing towards normal levels.
While customers have been forming huge queues outside big name stores in Ipswich such as Primark and John Lewis this week, the atmosphere down St Peter’s Street - home to a range of independent and small businesses - has been noticeably calmer.
But the street’s store owners have expressed their delight at being able to finally reopen and have reported a steady return to normal business levels.
Shops in St Peter’s Street are providing cleaning products such as hand sanitiser to customers and are asking visitors to respect social distancing guidelines to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.
John Manning, who owns home furnishings store The House in Town, said: “It feels great to be open. It was fantastic on Monday to open the doors and feel like a shopkeeper again.
“It has been tough not interacting with my customers.
“We have a loyal customer base and plenty of people have been to see us. Everyone knows we’re here.
“And social distancing has worked well so far - everyone has been sensible.”
Cathy Frost, owner of gift store Loveone, added: “It’s been fairly busy. My regulars have been to see me.
“It’s definitely a different kind of experience down here compared to Primark or TK Maxx.
“I have really missed being open, but I’m nervous about how people will react to the ‘next’ normal.
“But I’m relieved we’re finally open with safety measures in place.
“We appreciate that shopping will be different but this is about supporting the community.”
And Wendy Childs, owner of Maud’s Attic, said: “Being open feels brilliant. It’s one step of getting back to normal. “But it is going to be very gradual.”
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