SHOPPERS are being urged to show their support for town centre traders when restrictions are relaxed and non-essential retailers and outdoor hospitality venues in Northampton prepare to reopen their doors on Monday (April 12).
More than a year after the pandemic first hit, shops will be able to start trading again while pubs and restaurants serve customers sitting outside.
Northampton town centre is taking extra measures to encourage social distancing and keep shoppers and workers safe.
Mark Mullen, operations manager for Northampton Town Centre Business Improvement District – the organisation working on behalf of businesses to enhance and promote the town centre – said: “It feels so good to finally be back. After what has been an incredibly difficult year for all of us, we cannot wait to get that buzz back, hear the tills ringing and see people supporting our traders.
“Shops and businesses have been through the mill so now is the time to show them a bit of love. Their first aim throughout the pandemic was to survive, we now want them to thrive.
“Whether it is buying new clothes, toys for the kids or enjoying a pint and a bite to eat in a pub beer garden, we want to see everyone enjoying Northampton town centre. We have made every effort to ensure the town is clean, safe and secure and we are looking forward to welcoming everyone back.”
Businesses are confident customers will return to the town centre after more than a year of shopping online with the prospect of browsing stores, trying on clothes and getting a feel for what they are buying a welcome relief from scrolling through websites and clicking social media links.
Andrew Cruden, of Market Square News, said: “The town centre has obviously been extremely quiet but there is a real feeling of optimism around now. People are ready to get out and support those businesses who have been closed for so long.
“I think there will be a real revival in the retail sector. Online shopping has its place but there is nothing quite like going out to the shops and chatting to people. I would say to everyone at home that we are here, we are ready, we are safe and we need you now more than ever.”
The relaxed guidelines introduced as part of Step 2 of the government’s roadmap will see the opening of non-essential retail; personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons; public buildings, including libraries and community centres and indoor leisure facilities such as gyms.
Hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoors at Step 2 and there will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks and no curfew, although customers must order, eat and drink while seated. Wider social contact rules will apply in all these settings to prevent indoor mixing between different households.
Terry Steers, of St Giles Ale House, said: “As a hospitality business, the past year has been a living nightmare but we have got through it. I am looking forward to raising a glass with customers and toasting the fact that Northampton is back in business.”
Kerry Reynolds, area director at Metro Bank Northampton, said: “As an essential service, Metro Bank has remained open throughout the pandemic and we have continued to serve both our business and personal customers when they have needed us the most.
“The health, safety and wellbeing of our colleagues, customers and community remains our highest priority and we have taken steps to implement social distancing to keep everyone safe.
“We are delighted that Northampton town centre will start to reopen on Monday and we want to see our local businesses thrive. We look forward to seeing our neighbours back open on Abington Street very soon.”