Harrogate shoppers go on spending spree as lockdown eases figures reveal

Harrogate shoppers welcomed the return of non-essential shops last week with a spending spree, figures suggest.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 4:57 pm
Going on a spending spree - A busy James Street in Harrogate (Picture Gerard Binks)

As coronavirus restrictions at the beginning of last week, eased many retailers opened their doors in Harrogate for the first time since early January

he banking firm Revolut analysed the data of 7,000 of its customers in Harrogate between April 12 and 18, comparing it to the average weekly spend in February 2020, before lockdown started.

Harrogate shoppers spent 79% more on average last week than normal, according to their data – with T K Maxx the most popular shop.

Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce said it was incredible to see so many people back in the town centre and augured well.

But the business body also warned it would be wrong to ignore business concerns irrespective of the Government's roadmap out of lockdown.

Sue Kramer, Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce management group member and town centre retailer, said the positive vibes should not be allowed to obscure the challenges ahead.

She said: “It has been fantastic to see people out and about in town and able to visit shops closed for the last three months.

“The majority of people were just delighted to be back to some semblance of normality.

“Trade was incredibly busy initially, not unexpected due to the good weather, and the lure of a pint and a meal, but then tailed off slightly, which was a disappointment.

The British Retail Consortium said stores have worked hard to provide customers with a "safe and enjoyable" shopping experience, and it expects footfall to increase as more outlets reopen.

Chief executive Helen Dickinson added: “With case numbers continuing to drop, retailers hope that confidence will return to high streets, shopping centres and retail parks, and encourage UK consumers to release some of the £160 billion saved up during this pandemic.

"By unlocking consumer savings, UK retail has a key role to play in the wider economic recovery.”

But Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce Sue Kramer said there were some worrying signs, too, and it was crucial the roadmap for the further easing of Covid rules happened on time.

Mrs Kramer said: “Some customers were not happy having to queue, which is difficult as a retailer as you still want to give your usual level of customer service, and are conscious that people are waiting and getting impatient.

“Interestingly, some elderly customers who had been isolating for a long period were still worried, and just visited one or two places before going straight home.”

The Chamber’s vice-president highlighted two main concerns in the months to come for traders - the rules and the roadmap.

Sue Kramer said: “Those businesses with viable outdoor space have made full advantage of it, and we hope the local authorities who offer pavement/street licences are making it as easy as possible for businesses to access them.

“It is vital that there’s no slippage in the reopening timetable as those businesses without any opportunities to use outside seating areas are missing out, and others simply need more capacity in order to make it viable for them to open.”

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