Will masks put off shoppers on Norfolk’s high streets?

PUBLISHED: 16:41 22 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:41 22 July 2020

Footfall is slowly starting to recover in Norfolk - but will it take another hit? Picture: PA

Footfall is slowly starting to recover in Norfolk - but will it take another hit? Picture: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Slowly but surely customers are returning to Norfolk’s high streets – but there are fears the improvements in footfall could take a hit when mask must be worn in shops.

As of Friday, customers will be asked to wear face coverings when going into shops, though they will not have to wear them into restaurants, pubs and cafes.

Businesses have already expressed their concern that measures may put off more nervous shoppers, but others are hopeful that thanks to a delayed introduction of the policy the public may be more comfortable with the idea.

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In Norwich footfall is still well below what it was a year ago – with about 41pc of footfall traffic yet to return.

Prior to lockdown around 70,000 people visited the city in a week, which rose to around 158,000 when non-essential shops reopened.

Since then around 204,000 people visit every week, but this is still a far cry from last year’s figure of 340,000.

Beckie Kingsley, owner of Ginger in Norwich’s Timberhill, said: “We’re seeing about half the amount of footfall we would usually be seeing at this time of year. I don’t think having to wear a mask in shops will put off our customers though.

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“I think people will have had more time to get used to the idea of wearing a mask and have seen how shops have reopened and that they are safe to go to, I think it’s heading in the right direction.”

The same is true in Great Yarmouth, with the BID reporting that the week non-essential shops reopened footfall was down 55pc on the previous June.

Jonathan Newman, town centre manager at the Great Yarmouth Town Centre Partnership, said: “Since then we have seen a steady weekly increase in footfall. The last seven days are up 10pc on the previous seven. However, the weekly average is still around 40pc down on 2019 which is on a par with current national high street footfall performance.”

The manager of Flirts, a dance store in Great Yarmouth, said: “I am scared people having to wear masks will put them off, but if the government says it’s necessary we need to help enforce the guidelines.”

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