Bleak new year for Ipswich town centre - but market returns despite lockdown

Catchey's market stall

Catchey's fruit and veg stall returned to Ipswich market despite the lockdown - and the weather. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Businesses in Ipswich town centre are facing the fight of their lives over the next few months - and many will struggle to survive the third lockdown in a year.

That was the bleak assessment from the chief executive of Ipswich Central as the town braced itself for the latest blow to hit retailers and the hospitality sector.

Paul Clement warned that the government support announced yesterday was totally inadequate for many of the businesses who would struggle to survive the bleak winter months.

Mr Clement said: "This is always the quietest quarter of the year for businesses in the town centre, and they have to rely on their takings in the previous quarter - the run-up to Christmas - to tide them over.

"This year they can't do that, and now they have to close down again for how long? We all hope the Prime Minister is right and we can see things start to return to normal in February but we'll have to see."

He said the support offered by government would be insufficient to support companies who would still be facing rent and staff costs over the next few months.

"What businesses want is a deal that can cover their losses - and gives them some confidence that the government has a plan to get things back after all this is over and at the moment it looks as if they are making up policies one day at a time!"

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His warnings came as the town's hardiest market traders - Young's fish stall and Catchey's fruit and veg - returned for the first time in 2021.


Mick Catchpole

Mick Catchpole was protected against the cold - and the virus! - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Mick Catchpole from the fruit and veg stall said they would carry on trading as long as the customers turned out: "Considering what the weather was like it wasn't too bad today. Lockdown or no lockdown you weren't going to get many people out on na day like this!"


Fish stall

Customers were making a special effort to visit Young's fish stall. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Lucy Young from the fish stall was also pleased with the business they did: "Clearly people were taking heed of the advice, the town centre was very empty - but we had a steady stream of people who had made the effort to come out to buy fish from us.

"And we are also doing very well with our delivery service in the area. Overall we are planning to carry on here four days a week." 

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