Mapped: The shops, cafés and restaurants that came to our towns in 2020
- Credit: Archant
The year of the Covid-19 pandemic saw several shops close and businesses fold - but many independent firms joined our high streets in 2020, bringing a ray of hope for the future.
From restaurants to boutiques, scores of new businesses gave the region's major town centres of Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Colchester a vote of confidence by setting up shop last year.
In Ipswich, it was all about food and retail with the arrival of shoe shop Deichmann to the Cornhill, filling the vacant Burton and Dorothy Perkins unit in December 2020.
Popular food firms bonbon, an independent patisserie selling a variety of baked goods, Hanks Deli & Shop, Suffolk's only vegan supermarket, and independent luxury food store Wildgoose fine foods all opened their doors last year.
Dial Lane Books also welcomed its first customers earlier in the year.
A snapshot survey in December found there were 88 empty units in Ipswich, 13 more than the same time in 2019, with the full impact of Covid-19 on the high street unlikely to be seen until the middle of this year.
Paul Clement, of the town's business improvement district Ipswich Central, acknowledged how difficult 2020 had been for firms, adding that he recognises huge effort is required to rebuild the economy.
But he added: "It will be a monumental task that will necessitate creative thinking, bravery and determination.
"But the business community is looking for our entire focus in 2021 to be on this rebuilding and repurposing process and we are determined that we will not let them down.”
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Bury St Edmunds
Dubbed by some as the foodie capital of Suffolk, Bury St Edmunds also welcomed a number of hospitality firms in 2020.
Pizza Hut closed its doors on the Cornhill in late summer and the vacant unit was filled by fast-growing independent Wright's café while Burger Amour has replaced Ask Italian on Parkway, near the Cineworld.
A new ladies boutique, called Maia & Cecile, opened in Abbeygate Street in late December, while photography firm Guildhall Studios also opened last month, replacing the Guat's Up coffee shop in Guildhall Street.
Mark Cordell, of business improvement district Our Bury St Edmunds, said he is delighted so many firms share his confidence about high streets in 2021, despite the devastation brought by Covid-19.
"(2020) has undoubtedly been a difficult time for town centre businesses but hope is far from lost in Bury St Edmunds," he said, adding that the town is planning for a bumper year ahead.
A host of independent shops joined Colchester's town centre in 2020, with many using the focal Red Lion Yard as a base.
The central location, between Lion Walk and the High Street, has recently become home to affordable yarn and wool shop Nanna's Yarn Barn, and independent bakery Victoria Yum.
Hairdresser Jak Finch moved into Crouch Street while Minerva Chocolates became a popular addition to the high street.
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