‘We’ve had a double whammy’ - shopkeeper urges visitors to return to town
- Credit: Jan White
A shopkeeper has urged visitors to return to a town which has suffered from a double whammy of road closures and lockdown.
Bob White, who owns Showcase Gallery in North Walsham which has been open throughout lockdown, said the number of shoppers in the town had fallen “dramatically” since gas pipe works saw the closure of the town centre in January, with footfall decreasing even further when lockdown was announced on March 23.
With the works now finished and lockdown gradually being lifted, Mr White said promotion was key to drawing families back into the town centre after his business lost 50pc- 60pc of its usual trade over the last five months.
He said: “It’s really devastated the town and that’s why I’m so anxious to let everybody know that the town is back open and the gas works are gone.
“The trade was terrible in January and February because of the gas works, and consequently because of Coronavirus we’ve had five months of really bad trade in the town.
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“You can’t blame people, the buses weren’t coming through the town, the council at least opened up the car parks for two hours free which was a really good gesture and we had a government scheme claim which was obviously a great help, but people have got out of the habit of coming into the town, we lost the bank holidays in Easter, the market was obviously stopped and we’re glad that’s now coming back.
“What can you say? We just want it back to normal, we all want to go and have a pint.”
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During lockdown Mr White and his team of 11 have been delivering newspapers in the town for free, and have been asking the town’s other businesses to waive their delivery fees while lockdown is in place.
He said staff had been great during challenging times, thanking his customers for being “so polite and appreciative”.
Mr White said one silver lining of the pandemic had been that people were being kinder to each other with everyone saying hello to each other in the town.