Ice cream and beer sales soar as footfall to Norwich increases

Gentleman's Walk in Norwich on the first week of April where further COVID restrictions have been li

Gentleman's Walk in Norwich on the first week of April after further Covid restrictions have been lifted. - Credit: Danielle Booden

City centre businesses have seen increases in footfall in the first few days of restrictions being eased.

Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) calculated footfall had increased from 99,000 to 113,000 last week, which is double what it was during the height of lockdown.

And with nice weather combining with the Easter holidays and Covid restrictions easing, BID executive director Stefan Gurney anticipates a further increase in footfall for this week. 

But Mr Gurney said footfall is still about a third of what it was before the pandemic two years ago. 

For Dominic Burke, co-owner of Sir Toby's Beers, sales have soared by 30pc this week with the business also increasing its opening hours.

Joseph Marks, beer salesman, and Dominic Burke, co-owner, from Sir Toby's Beers stall working at CJ'

Joseph Marks, beer salesman, and Dominic Burke, co-owner, from Sir Toby's Beers stall working at CJ's Fruit and Veg stall on Norwich Market - Credit: Danielle Booden

Although they advertise to stay open until 6pm, Mr Burke said they have been working until 7pm. He said many customers have been buying a bag of beer to take to the park.


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"We have seen an upturn in trade with the restrictions eased, and being blessed with nice weather," Mr Burke said.

"It has been a combination of the two. We are a small business so we can be reactive. It's still about doing things sensibly and it's important not to get too carried away." 

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But while takeaway alcohol sales appear to have increased this week, it has been a different story for Debs Champion, otherwise known as Debs, who sells the "biggest baps on Norwich Market". 

She said: "This week has been slower. With the weather and the fact children are on holiday, there has been nothing to bring parents into the city for. The parks and beaches have been chock-a-block I hear.

Debs Champion, owner of Debs, at her stall on Norwich Market. Picture: Danielle Booden

Debs Champion, owner of Debs, at her stall on Norwich Market. - Credit: Danielle Booden

"We have only been open again for the last three weeks and trade has been very difficult to pick up again. The week before was a little bit better but we have taken a drop and are at least 40pc down.

"I'm expecting a lot more people when all the shops open on April 12, even if it is just to queue for Primark!" 

Nestled halfway up Dove Street is Strangers Coffee Roasters, where worker Finn Radley said footfall levels have stayed consistent with previous levels this week, albeit with a noticeable increase in groups of six.

Will Maddocks and Finn Radley of Strangers Coffee Roasters on Dove Street

Will Maddocks and Finn Radley of Strangers Coffee Roasters on Dove Street - Credit: Archant

The sunny weather on Tuesday and Wednesday proved beneficial for the Ice Cream Parlour on Norwich Market, which reopened last week.

Co-owner Julie Butcher said the bubble-gum and salted caramel flavours have been particularly popular amongst children, with vegan options also proving to be a hit.

Julie Butcher and Iona Stubbs at The Ice Cream Parlour on Norwich Market 

Julie Butcher and Iona Stubbs at The Ice Cream Parlour on Norwich Market - Credit: Ben Hardy

Mrs Butcher said: "We are solely dependent on the weather really. It's hard to sell ice-cream in February and March but I would say there are definitely more people in the city now restrictions have eased." 

Kellie Hilton of Joe's Pets agreed that there has "definitely been a lot more people around" this week.

She added: "This lockdown has been better than the last as lots of people seem to be getting their daily exercise in and it just feels much busier.

"We are looking forward to April 12 because it will be nice to have all the shops open and other stalls back."

Kellie Hilton working at Joe's Pets stall working at CJ's Fruit and Veg stall on Norwich Market. Pic

Kellie Hilton working at Joe's Pets stall working at CJ's Fruit and Veg stall on Norwich Market. - Credit: Danielle Booden

The Cuppie Hut has been mainly selling cupcakes and sweet treats online during the pandemic, except for Fridays and Saturdays. But Melanie Able said she had come to the stall today in preparation for the busy Easter weekend. 

Melanie Able working at The Cuppie Hut stall on Norwich Market. Picture: Danielle Booden

Melanie Able working at The Cuppie Hut stall on Norwich Market. - Credit: Danielle Booden

She said: "We have noticed it is really, really busy and there is a definite increase in footfall. We are happy with the roadmap as most people have been mindful and there is lots of sanitiser and screens being used."

Kirpal Singh of A taste of Punjab said customers are slowly increasing with families making up around half of his footfall at the moment. 

Kirpal Singh, owner of A Taste of Punjab Indian Takeaway, at his stall on Norwich Market. Picture: D

Kirpal Singh, owner of A Taste of Punjab Indian Takeaway, at his stall on Norwich Market. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Greengrocer Eve Parsons of CJ's Fruit and Veg has also seen a steady increase this week, but she is expecting it to be "crazy" on the 12th with hopes for plenty more customers.

Green grocer Eve Parsons working at CJ's Fruit and Veg stall on Norwich Market. Picture: Danielle Bo

Green grocer Eve Parsons working at CJ's Fruit and Veg stall on Norwich Market. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Ahead of that date, Mr Gurney of BID added: "Everyone has adhered to the legislation and advice, and we are confident that everyone can come back safely."

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