Shoppers seem ready to return to Ipswich town centre, survey reveals

PUBLISHED: 06:03 09 June 2020

Ipswich town centre is still quiet- but more shops should be open from next Monday.  Picture: ARCHANT

Ipswich town centre is still quiet- but more shops should be open from next Monday. Picture: ARCHANT


Nearly three quarters of Ipswich residents are expecting to use the town centre as much as ever once lockdown restrictions are eased, according to a new survey.

And two thirds expect to spend as much time as ever in the town centre once it starts to operate fully again.

The findings come in a survey of 500 people from all postcodes across the borough commissioned for Ipswich Central, the BID company representing companies in the heart of the town – especially those in the retail and leisure sectors.

The survey has been published on the day we are holding an Open House Forum to discuss how town centres across the region can recover in the wake of the coronavirus crisis of the last three months.

The survey showed that 26% of the people who took part expected to visit the town centre less frequently after the pandemic had eased and that 34% expected to spend less time in the town centre.

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It also showed that 43% of people were hoping to work at home more after the restrictions were eased.

Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement took those findings as positive: “This suggests that most people do want to go back to use the town centre for shopping and for meeting people and it is our job to make it so they feel safe in doing that.”

The survey found that only 17% expected to do more shopping online after the crisis. The most popular reason given for going back to the town centre was to meet up with friends and socialise (57%) – followed by going to the theatre and cinema (40%). People also said they were keen to use open spaces.

The major concerns were catching Covid-19(46%), social distancing(45%), and failure of others to respect the rules (41%).

The survey was analysed for Ipswich Central by former Suffolk New College principal Dr Dave Muller who said it provided valuable data as it prepared its ‘Together we Can’ campaign to reopen the heart of town next week. He said: “We now know the issues that are impacting (the town centre) and we have a plan that responds to them.”

When the town reopens from Monday, there will be keep left signs for pedestrians and Upper Brook Street will be closed to traffic during the day allowing people to walk in the road and not be confined to the sometimes-crowded pavements.

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