Back our local retailers and help the High Street fight back

Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central Picture: ARCHIVE

Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central Picture: ARCHIVE - Credit: Archant

Today we call on readers to get behind our local retailers and High Streets, as non-essential shops reopen for the first time since lockdown.

The Support Local logo

The Support Local logo - Credit: Archant

Town centres and individual stores introduced a series of measures ahead of today, in a bid to reassure people it is safe to return.

And after being closed for nearly three months, it is vital they are supported – which is why this newspaper is urging its readers to back retailers with our Support Local campaign.

By returning to the shops, customers are helping to put money back into the economy.

Research has suggested that between 50p and 70p in every £1 spent with a small or medium sized business stays in the local economy – more than if the money was spent with a larger firm.

Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central, said: “We know people want to come back and visit our shops, and now they can because we have done all we can to ensure it is safe.

“We have put in measures that should reassure shoppers that they will have an enjoyable and safe visit to the town centre and I hope they enjoy returning to the town centre again. It is very important for the life of the town.”

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Mark Cordell, of Our Bury St Edmunds, said the town’s mixture of independent and chain stores had made it a popular shopping centre before the pandemic and this would put it in a good position to recover now.

He said: “Bury St Edmunds has been a such a vibrant town for retail and it is a great mixture of independents and familiar names so I am sure people will want to come back. People do need to feel safe when they visit, and I am sure we will have done enough to achieve that.”

It is not just the large shopping centres that have been preparing for the return of shoppers this week.

James Lightfoot, from Choose Woodbridge, said the market town’s independent stores were key to its success: “Woodbridge is full of independent shops offering personal service, many of which have been in the same family for generations.

“And it is obvious that if you own your own business you are going to take even more pride in the services you offer. We have great businesses and a wonderful place to visit here.”

There was a similar story in Felixstowe where mayor Mark Jepson said: “We will be pleased to see familiar doors opening for business once again and encourage our residents to show their support by buying locally.

“We will be introducing several changes in the Felixstowe Town Centre and seafront. As soon as we can legally do so the Hamilton Road Shared Space will be made pedestrian friendly with traffic restrictions in place to assist people to observe social distancing rules and our businesses to trade effectively.”

Other plans include signage to help direct safe shopping and movement in key locations. Public conveniences will remain open with appropriate facilities, information and government guidelines on hand washing.