‘Getting everything we can’: seaside shoppers make the most of last day of freedom
- Credit: Archant
A dose of retail therapy, a coffee with a best friend, a saunter down the local pub and a trip to the salon: these were some of the ways seaside shoppers spent their final day of freedom as lockdown looms.
Barbara Ferguson and Judith Stone, 80-year-old best friends, made sure they visited their regular haunt in Great Yarmouth’s town centre one last time before Thursday.
“We’re getting everything we can get,” Ms Ferguson said. “We’ve been to our favourite cafe and had our usual coffee.”
“We’ve been best friends for 40 years, and don’t go often without seeing each other.
“It’s going to be tough spending lockdown just with your household plus one other person, but what can you do?”
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Friends Sandy Driver and Vicky Lee, from Great Yarmouth, were also “making the most of things” before Thursday as they sat chatting by the marketplace.
Ms Driver said: “We’re here for some retail therapy, because we don’t know what’s going to happen after tomorrow.”
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Partners Theresa and Michael Symonds live in Gorleston, but came into town to “browse all the things we can’t buy after tomorrow”.
Ms Symonds said: “After that, we’re going to go for a nice cup of tea and a snack, and have as relaxing a day as possible.”
Mr Symonds said: “We’re concerned about the lockdown, but it has to happen. The saddest thing will be staying away from family for a month, who we always see on Sundays.”
Chloe Cashman and her two-year-old daughter Amelia, meanwhile, were out on a mission.
Ms Cashman said: “We’re moving into my mum and dad’s because it was too hard being away from them in the last lockdown. We’re here to get money out of the bank, and do some food shopping at Asda. Just being out is enough.”
Edward Hopwood, a loyal punter at the Theatre Tavern, said he was going to “miss the place” during lockdown.
“I come here once a week to see my friends, and people love catching up with each other. I’m spending the day here as I’m going to really miss it when it’s closed,” he said.
Non-essential business owners, however, were feeling exhausted with the idea of another lockdown.
While there were queues outside banks and the post office in Yarmouth town centre, it was otherwise very quiet.
Steve Cook, owner of Branded Toys on Regent Road, said: “It’s not been a total disaster, but we definitely didn’t get that pre-lockdown rush we hoped for today.
“The funny thing is that most people are frantically rushing round to get food in and money out, but banks and supermarkets will be open the whole way through. We’re the ones who will be closed.”
Jonathan Hanks from The Sock Stop agreed. He said: “There’s nobody out and about round here today, as you can see. November is a dead-end month for me anyway. What delivered a real blow to the businesses here was the trade we lost at the beginning of the year.”
Owner of Gold & Silver Exchange Adam Birch said his shop would be fine over lockdown due to its small overheads as a family business, but that things had been quiet in the run-up to Thursday.
He said: “It seems a weird approach to be shutting shops but not schools. I think you might as well go all or nothing. But I do agree that lockdown is a necessary evil. This is life now. We just need to ride it out.”
On Gorleston high street, chairman of the Traders’ Association Kevin Huggins said things were “manic”.
At his salon, Hair Fusion, customers had been piling in since Monday - with the store closing at 9pm to accommodate demand.
He said: “It’s such a shame to be closing because today felt like normal. It felt like the run-up to Christmas again.
“We had 12 stylists in and even made use of the training room and side rooms to fit everyone in. There’s probably about 90 clients today alone, and 200 collectively since Monday. Even the butchers had queues out the door.
“It was a relief in some ways, because we’ve been running at about 60pc capacity since the last lockdown was lifted, and we frankly thought we were all doing something wrong.”