Fringe Box



Traders and Shoppers Relieved To Be Back But Worried Lockdown Will Return

Published on: 3 Dec, 2020
Updated on: 3 Dec, 2020

With Debenhams in administration and due to close in the New Year, shoppers were looking for bargains. Sales were showing up to 50% reductions as shops re-opened after lockdown.

By Hugh Coakley

Shoppers were hoping to bag a bargain in Guildford’s pre-Christmas sales yesterday (December 2) after Lockdown 2 ended. Shop owners were reporting that people were “relieved to be back”.

But the worry of Covid has remained. Traders told The Guildford Dragon NEWS that there were concerns stricter measures would be introduced when the government reviews the tier restriction levels in two weeks and that was adding to the uncertainty.

Mark Goss, owner of the outdoor and fashion retailer Moffats in North Street, said: “It’s great to be back. We’ve been shut for four months this year so far but we aren’t investing a huge amount in traditional Christmas stock as we could go into Tier 3 and another lockdown after Christmas.”

Early sales in the larger shops.

The owner of Sis & Bros cafe in White Lion Walk, Shahram Ekbatani, was also concerned about further restrictions but said: “The town is quite busy today and that’s a good sign.”

Staff in Topshop in The Friary said they have been told it was business as usual after the announcement that the owner, Arcadia, had gone into administration. “We just hope we can get through to Christmas.” said a member of staff.

Topshop, along with many of the other chain shops, was offering large reductions to entice spending in the lead up to Christmas.

Topshop continues to trade but it will leave a huge gap in The Friary if it closes due to Arcadia failing.

Amanda Masters, CEO of Experience Guildford, said: “It’s understandable people are nervous. There is evidence that people have been sitting on their money during lockdown. It looks like they will be spending in the high street.”

GBC’s lead councillor for the Economy John Redpath (R4GV, Holy Trinity) said: “I’m happy to see the high street open and it looks busy today. We are concerned about how busy it might become and the effect that might have on social distancing.”

Referring to the announcement by the communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, on relaxing planning restrictions to allow shops to stay open around the clock in December and January, Mr Redpath said: “That is a good idea. There may be extra costs for the shops and others but it could encourage shoppers. We will work with the stakeholders to see if it is feasible.”

Buskers were back in town with entertainment by Straight Circles in North Street.

Guildford Labour Party chairman Brian Creese said: “People are right to be worried. The government have flip-flopped all over the place. It hasn’t stuck to any plan long enough to make a decisive impact. I hope they roll out the vaccine efficiently but I’m not confident.

“It isn’t Covid killing the economy, it’s the constant on-off. No business can plan for that.”

Despite the gloomy news of bankruptcies and job losses, independent shops were generally optimistic about weathering the Covid storm. Biddles co-owner David Goddard said the smaller shops were less reliant on Christmas but “the big boys depend on it. I’m optimistic about our business but I don’t know how the town will come out of this. I just worry about what’s going to be left.”

Matt Goss said: “Government support is reducing but customers are telling us they want to support small businesses. That’s definitely growing.”

Nicky Hayes from Wonersh Interiors said: “People are expecting to go back into lockdown but they will accept that as there is a vaccine coming.”

The final word went to Jan Smith queuing to buy Christmas cards in White Lion Walk; “It’s great that everywhere is open again. People are behaving safely and it’s great to be alive.”

Kellie Wilson and Kate Booker have opened Kallie’s Deli in Chertsey Street. “We are very optimistic. We went into lockdown as we opened. So as far as we are concerned, it can only go up.”

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Responses to Traders and Shoppers Relieved To Be Back But Worried Lockdown Will Return

  1. Martin Lockwood Reply

    December 3, 2020 at 2:45 pm

    People are not behaving sensibly or safely. Too many too close together and ignoring the requirement to wear masks.

    I for one will avoid till immunisation is complete as online shopping is safer.

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