Shopping off to a 'good start' in Sheffield but footfall is way down
Shopping in Sheffield city centre is off to a ‘good start’ after lockdown restrictions were eased, but footfall is a quarter of what it was, new figures show.
Fargate and The Moor ‘feel busy’ but it will take months for a full recovery, according to Diane Jarvis, manager of the Business Improvement District.
A surge of shoppers hit Sheffield after non-essential stores were allowed to open on Monday June 15. There were socially distanced queues outside some stores such as Primark on The Moor.
But the number fell by 21 per cent the following day, Ms Jarvis said. And overall they were 75 per cent down on the same week last year.
But this was better than expected and laid the foundations for a recovery.
She added: “I was surprised, I expected it to be lower. There are plenty of people walking around. It’s a good start, but we have to be aware government advice is still to only use the bus if it’s essential and to stay at home.
“A lot of people are rightly cautious but the advice might change from 2m social distancing to 1m this week and that would help bars and restaurants.”
The Star has launched a ‘Support Local’ campaign aimed at making sure economies like Sheffield’s recover properly from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Locally, these efforts are being supported by Sheffield BID, or business improvement district, which is funded by a levy on firms and aims to make the city centre more attractive and vibrant.
Ms Jarvis urged shoppers to check the store they wanted was open before setting off and whether it had restrictions such as ‘click and collect only’. And she urged retailers to keep their websites up to date.
“Retailers have a lot to contend with right now but we are seeing some disconnect between online and in-store information.”
Further easing was expected on July 4 and by August all shops should be open - although not back to normal because ‘safety was paramount’.
She added: “The threat level has lifted from four to three which will help build consumer confidence. It will be some time before the sales come back, but they are going in the right direction.”