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Town traders defiant in face of Covid-19 as re-opening date in sight

PUBLISHED: 10:54 19 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:54 19 May 2020

No social distancing in those days - shoppers pack into King's Lynn's newly-pedestrianised shopping centre in 1971. Will they return in droves as lockdown is lifted?  Picture: Archant

No social distancing in those days - shoppers pack into King's Lynn's newly-pedestrianised shopping centre in 1971. Will they return in droves as lockdown is lifted? Picture: Archant

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It will take more than coronavirus to finish us off.

Amanda Arterton of Artertons in King's Lynn  Photo: Madeline BushAmanda Arterton of Artertons in King's Lynn Photo: Madeline Bush

That was the defiant pledge from a family business which has served west Norfolk for almost 30 years, as traders in King’s Lynn get set to re-open.

June 1 has been mooted as a date when some so-called non-essential shops can re-open.

MORE - Campsites across Norfolk pin hopes on summer reopening

Debenhams has confirmed its branch on the High Street in King's Lynn will not be reopening  Picture: Chris BishopDebenhams has confirmed its branch on the High Street in King's Lynn will not be reopening Picture: Chris Bishop

Amanda Arterton, who owns Artertons furniture store on the High Street with her husband Colin, said the business was gearing up to resume trading. She believes its loyal customer base will help it to bounce back.

“Most of our customers are sensitive to the personal touch, which you don’t get from online shops like Amazon and the rest,” she said.

“Opening on June 1 is being hinted at, so we will have to wait and see. Although closed, we’ve been maintaining the store, cleaning the vans and keeping paperwork up to date. We will arrange the store in such a way to ensure social distancing is maintained.

Discover King's Lynn is supporting town centre retailers with signage and dvice, as shops prepare to reopen on June 1  Picture: Matthew UsherDiscover King's Lynn is supporting town centre retailers with signage and dvice, as shops prepare to reopen on June 1 Picture: Matthew Usher

“King’s Lynn is a unique and historically interesting town. I think it will take a lot more than Covid-19 to finish this town off.”

MORE - Tourism bosses hope to reopen in JulyArtertons’ three staff have been placed on furlough through the coronavirus outbreak. Those across the road at Debenhams will not have jobs to go back to, as the troubled store chain said the branch will not be reopening because it could not agree “appropriate terms” with its landlord.

The store is one of around 20 out of 140 branches which will remain closed.

King's Lynn BID manager Vicky Etheridge  Picture: Matthew UsherKing's Lynn BID manager Vicky Etheridge Picture: Matthew Usher

Shops could be allowed to re-open in phases from June 1 - provided the virus does not flare up again. But it remains to see whether the shoppers will come flocking back to town centres.

Discover King’s Lynn, the town’s business improvemnt district (BID), is preparing to support retailers with advice and signage.

“To say that most town centre businesses are having a hard time at the moment would be an understatement,” said BID manager Vicky Etheridge.

“It’s really hard to know whether come June 1, the streets are going to be busy again or not. There’s so much uncertainty, so many question, it’s making things really hard for people.”


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