‘We see no customers some days’: Independents on their knees due to car ban
PUBLISHED: 08:43 01 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:43 01 October 2020
Archant, Norfolk 2017
Independent retailers in Norwich which have been in business for decades have said that al fresco dining space added to its street will spell its downfall.
Shops in St Benedicts Street have said footfall has almost ceased on the city centre road, with Cookes Bands Instruments already making two members of staff redundant as a result of seeing no customers some days.
St Benedicts Street has been at the heart of a heated debate over space in the road being barriered off and used for outdoor seating to give hospitality businesses in the road more covers.
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Businesses claim that the council’s lack of consultation over the plans, as well as confusion for motorists when it comes to signage and parking, will lead to them closing.
Manager of Cookes, Mark Hedge, said: “We have been operating in this building since 1968, and if it weren’t for the fact that our landlord has told us we don’t have to pay rent we wouldn’t be able to survive this.
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“I’ve already had to make two people redundant. We’re all really passionate about what we do and we’ve got mortgages to pay, but short of trying to raise more investment I don’t know how we’ll keep going.”
Across the road Gail Watling at Red’s convenience store said the situation was “dire”, with sales at a lower point than during lockdown.
“The last few days have been the worst we’ve ever traded from this site. It’s getting to the point where I’m going to have to axe people’s hours,” she said.
“The problem is not hospitality businesses asking for the space but how it’s been handled by the council. No one knows whether the road is pedestrianised, there’s no parking, so people are just staying away.”
Soundclash Records on the road has also seen a fall in demand, but said this also partly due to its offering.
Owner Paul Mills said: “About half our footfall was people coming in to buy tickets for gigs which have all been cancelled. One of our problems is that we’re only open from 11am to 4pm and our deliveries can now only arrive at 10am because of the restrictions.
“It is beginning to pick up now the students are back but our sales from passing traffic is now zero.”
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