Eager Bury St Edmunds town centre traders count down the days to reopening
Bury St Edmunds town centre will be back in business next week as retailers begin the countdown to the eagerly awaited lifting of lockdown restrictions.
From Monday, shops and hairdressers, forced to close for three months, can welcome customers, while restaurants and pubs can serve outdoors.
Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds, said it was ‘exciting times’ with several new businesses set to launch and boost the recovery of the town centre, which has already seen an increase in footfall.
“There will be 10 units that were empty at Christmas which will now be filled this month and most of them opening on Monday,” he said.
Among them is hair salon and cocktail bar Lipstick and Locks, in Abbeygate Street.
Owner Abi Cutter said: “We can’t wait to finally open our doors and show Bury St Edmunds what we have to offer.”
In a six month scheme, Abbeygate Street will be closed to traffic for longer to help cafés and restaurants serve customers outdoors and another business in the street has received national acclaim.
Clothes shop Javelin was named by readers of Grazia as one of the best local stores in the UK as part of the magazine’s ‘Save Our Shops’ retail campaign.
Owner Jeremy Clayton said: “To receive such an accolade from a prestigious national magazine with such a large readership is a timely boost just as we are about to reopen after the current lockdown.”
Furniture shop Glasswells, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary, used the lockdown to make improvements at its Newmarket Road store including investing £250,000 to enhance its air conditioning.
Managing director Paul Glasswell said the business had enjoyed ‘some areas of growth’ over the last year despite the difficult climate for retailers and they were looking forward to welcoming back customers to their shops.
On the improvements to the Bury St Edmunds store, he said: “We have wanted to become more energy efficient for a couple of years and the last three months gave us the opportunity to do that in Bury.
“Our Ipswich store has seen improvements to our lighting and the restaurant refurbished while all our stores will have new designs and subtle lay-out changes to make sure our loyal customers can shop safely.
“We are ready to welcome customers back. It is a strange way to start our 75th year in business but we are planning some celebratory events once guidance allows us to.
“I would like to thank all our loyal customers who have continued to support us and also sent us warm wishes.”
He added that staff had shown ‘commitment and resilience’ throughout the last year and they were ‘counting the days’ until reopening.
We would appeal to everyone to act with respect, kindness and maturity to ensure everyone is having a good time when visiting Bury St Edmunds - Mark Cordell
The store will welcome back customers with a 75th anniversary sale, while its Place to Eat restaurant will serve food on an outside patio area as well as takeaways.
Mr Cordell noted that footfall in the town centre was rising with a 30 per cent increase last week on the previous week.
“It’s all pointing in the right direction and we’re confident the local community will come out and support the local businesses,” he said.
“We would appeal to everyone to act with respect, kindness and maturity to ensure everyone is having a good time when visiting Bury St Edmunds.”
Our Bury St Edmunds has launched a new video to showcase the town as part of its #BuryBouncingBack campaign.
The video, made with the support of the town council, will be shown this weekend on the Our Bury St Edmunds YouTube channel and across its social media streams.
Many of the town’s businesses feature in the new film, which was made by Allegro Creative Agency following the successful Bury Merry Christmas film - viewed about 150,000 times.
Meanwhile, the traffic closure in Abbeygate Street will be extended from its current hours of 10am to 4pm, to 8am to 6pm to help hospitality businesses, which will only be allowed to serve customers indoors from May 17.
West Suffolk Council will also be welcoming all traders back to its markets with a number of measures in place.
Customers at the markets will be asked to try to use contactless payment, leave space in queues and follow any directional signage.
The authority is urging residents to ‘shop local and to support town centres while keeping Covid safe’.
Debenhams, in the arc shopping centre, will reopen for a final closing down sale.
In January, the Boohoo Group bought the brand out of liquidation but not its shops.
A spokesman said: “We are very grateful for the efforts of our staff who have worked so hard throughout the most difficult of circumstances to keep the business trading.”
The stores will begin to shut permanently from May 2, with the stock clearance completed, and the final shops will close by May 15.