Ice cream and beer sales soar as footfall to Norwich increases
- 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.
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.
"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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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."