'The economy will bounce back' - Independent shops positive about reopening

Shoppers out and about in East Anglia before the latest national lockdown

Independent retailers in Suffolk are hoping for a busy start when customers return next week - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Independent shops in Suffolk say they are excited and nervous to welcome customers back on April 12

Tricia Hale, County Commissioner Girl Guiding Suffolk. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Tricia Hale, co-owner of Craftability in Ipswich - Credit: Archant

'We are hoping to capture people back again'

Like many retailers, craft shop Craftability in Ipswich has taken the enforced closure time to carry out renovation work. 

"It hasn't lost any of it's quirkiness, we've managed to redistribute stock around the place," said co-owner Tricia Hale. 

"A dedicated area to fabric and a big area for haberdashery. 

"We are hoping to capture people back again. 

"We've been doing email orders, very small ones, but people are keen to come back. 

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"Which is what we hope will happen so we can trade again in earnest."

Mrs Hale said that although she had concerns about footfall she believed people would come back to the town centre. 

"I think people do come into town specifically for us," said Mrs Hale. 

"The fact the footfall is likely to be down is a little bit of an issue.

"I think those of us who are in the town are keen to invest in our businesses and keen to keep it going. 

"We just have to embrace what we have got and support those businesses that are still there. 

"I think it will come back. People want the experience, they want to go out shopping, they want to meet their friends, they want to browse.

"And in our case they want expert advice.

"It's disappointing that some big shops have closed but let's hope others will pick up the slack."

Jules Button, of the Woodbridge Emporium Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Jules Button, of the Woodbridge Emporium Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

'I'm relieved and excited'

The Woodbridge Emporium will also be opening its doors on Monday. Owner Jules Button said it was important that the shop opened now. 

"I am actually relieved and excited," said Ms Button.

"We need it, the town needs it, the independents need it. 

"We need the footfall."

Ms Button said she was apprehensive about how quickly the footfall would increase in the town. 

"There are still some people out there who are frightened," said Ms Button. 

"Because of the fear associated with Covid. 

"So many people have got used to not coming into town centres. 

"They learn to diversify; to go elsewhere or go online. 

"I am concerned. How is it going to be? We just don't know."

Ms Button said the shop would be having a special offer day on the first Saturday after opening to try and entice more people back to the shop. 

"The hope is that it will encourage people back in and they'll get used to coming in again," said Ms Button. 

"I'm so used to it looking like a ghost town so it will be nice to see people coming back again."

Shop owner Nick Barber outside his Felixstowe store

Shop owner Nick Barber outside his Felixstowe store - Credit: Nick Barber

'I think the economy will bounce back'

Nick Barber Auctions in Felixstowe has just moved premises in the town ahead of re-opening. 

Owner Nick Barber is looking forward to having customers back in his on-site shop. 

"It's quite exciting in a way," said Mr Barber. 

"I think people will flock back to the shops as of next week. 

"I think it was a good idea for them not to have them open for Easter because they would have gone mad.

"It's the right time. I think all the local shops will be busy.

"I think the economy will bounce back."

Mr Barber said he believed that businesses in Suffolk would do even better as the summer went on with the public more likely to holiday at home. 

"I think it's pretty obvious now that the large majority of this country will holiday in the UK this year," said Mr Barber. 

"It means that people are going to be spending the money in this country. 

"Hopefully that will stimulate growth.

"I think Felixstowe will be very good throughout the summer. I think we will have a very good year."

Gary Thompson, of Wag and Bone in Aldeburgh Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Gary Thompson, of Wag and Bone in Aldeburgh Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

'It will be busy and that will be great for us'

Gary Thompson from Wag and Bone in Aldeburgh was also hopeful that bustling tourism trade would help the town later in the year. 

"I think generally everyone is very enthusiastic and hoping for a great and busy summer," said Mr Thompson. 

"I know that holiday places are virtually booked up. 

"It will be busy and that will be great for us."

Mr Thompson said that his only concern was that good trading from now through the summer could be interrupted by spikes in case numbers towards the end of the year. 

"There is always going to be trepidation now," said Mr Thompson. 

"There's the hope that unlike last year there isn't the unfortunate sting in the tail at the end of the year." 

Mr Thompson said that the small size of his shop and the limiting of customer numbers had come as a benefit. 

"People were prepared to queue," said Mr Thompson. 

"Whereas before if you are busy people would just walk away and not come back later. 

"People are more reasoned about waiting."