Businesses in Shrewsbury are “taking each day as it comes” and staying positive, with footfall steadily increasing in the town centre during the coronavirus recovery.
Temporary interventions are in place to make the town centre safe, including High Street being traffic-free during the day to enable people to observe social distancing.
Businesses are also making applications to use the road carriageway and loading bays for outside seating areas – enabling people to enjoy cafes, bars and restaurants in a safe way.
Seb Slater, executive director of Shrewsbury BID, which represents more than 500 town centre businesses, said the highway measures were in place to create a safe and welcoming town centre, and that businesses were looking forward to the rest of the summer.
He said: “This is a new normal for everyone and I think business owners are realistic and appreciate that we are in the early stages of recovery and that the public are cautious, and it will take time for sales levels to recover.
“Understandably, footfall is lower than it usually would be, but we have seen a steady increase above UK benchmarks – we are at about 60 per cent of the levels of last year, which is above the national average, and we expect footfall to continue to rise when hospitality businesses reopen from July 4.”
Mike Hale, of Wrekin Whiskies in Wyle Cop, said: “The way I look at it is that we are in uncharted waters. Since we reopened on June 1, I’ve thrown any notion of what we ‘should’ be taking right out the window and am taking each day as it comes.
“Some days have been surprisingly good, some are not. When life gives you lemons… slice them up into a gin and tonic!”
Jenny Muschner, of Blue Lemon in High Street, said the lack of through-traffic during the day was making for a pleasant shopping experience.
“There’s been a really nice buzz about the town centre, and people are enjoying being able to walk in the road so they can keep a safe distance from each other,” she said. “We are all staying positive and working hard to keep our customers safe.”
Gwen Burgess, of Darwin’s in Shoplatch, added: “Everyone understands the importance of social distancing and making the town centre as safe as possible.
“The traffic interventions seem to be working well, and if they help bring more people into the town centre in a safe way then that’s good for everyone.”
Carol Grant said she was delighted to re-open her women’s fashion shop in The Square.
“Customers are gaining confidence visiting and shopping in Shrewsbury, with pedestrian priority in Wyle Cop and High Street,” she said. “Our wonderful town is looking bright and welcoming with bunting and banners.
“I am looking forward to trading this summer as restaurants and cafes open, creating a complete shopping experience.”
Mike Gries, franchisee owner of Subway in Claremont Street and St Mary’s Street, said it was great to see people back in the town centre.
“The most important thing is that people feel safe and welcome when they come into town, and there is a great atmosphere in the town centre at the moment,” he said. “Removing traffic from the centre gives plenty of space for people to move around safely and we are hoping for a good summer.”