Join our debate on how town centres win back shoppers after lockdown

Ipswich town centre has been very quiet during the lockdown. How can it win back the shoppers? Pictu

Ipswich town centre has been very quiet during the lockdown. How can it win back the shoppers? Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

What is the future of our town centres? Can people who have been in lockdown for months be persuaded to leave their homes and visit real shops – what should our High Streets do to encourage visitors to return?

And can town centres start to recover without the “social” elements like pubs and coffee shops that make them a place people want to visit and meet their friends?

Many people have missed the social elements of getting out of the house to go shopping – but retailers have recognised that others will be feeling very nervous – and some scientists’ warnings that lockdown is being relaxed too fast is likely to cause many people to think twice before heading out on what they might consider “non-essential” shopping.

What can our towns do to persuade shoppers that they are safe places when there are constant warnings of the need for social distancing?

The future of our town centres is the subject of our next Open House forum that will take place online next Tuesday lunchtime for an hour from noon.

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We have assembled a panel including Paul Clement from Ipswich Central, Sarah Barber from Ipswich council and independent retailer Cathy Frost who sits on the Ipswich Vision Partnership and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

MORE: Register for our live Zoom discussion here and log on from midday Tuesday.

We will be discussing the future of our town centres – and will welcome questions and other contributions from viewers during the event.

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The event is the continuation of our Open House forums which began in early March, inviting readers into our newsroom to discuss the biggest local issues.

While social distancing measures and the current coronavirus lockdown make it impossible for people to gather in person, we are continuing to stage these events online through a Zoom video conference.

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