Bettys shop reopening boost for Harrogate town centre
Talking about how the first week back in operation had gone for the town's retail sector, Sandra Doherty, Chief Executive of Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce, said: “From the initial euphoria of the shops reopening last Monday, Chamber members I’ve spoken with who own town centre shops have described the last seven days as a mixed bag.
“Whilst Monday was busy, the rest of the week was relatively quiet, but picked up again at the weekend. Trade is significantly down which I think can only be expected, as there is some nervousness about venturing out.
“Now Betty’s has opened its shop, and with other stores reopening by the day, together with a good the weather forecast, this will hopefully encourage more people to venture into Harrogate town centre.
"But Harrogate won’t be fully firing on all cylinders until our café culture is restored with tea rooms, cafes, bars and restaurants back open.”
From immense pride in store staff's efforts to catching up with regular customers they hadn't seen for a while to continuing worries about footfall, Harrogate's first week back at the shops was, as the chamber's chief executive said, a "mixed bag."
Here's what a sample of town centre businesses themselves have said about the opening days of the return of customers.
Mark Robson, store manager, M&S, Cambridge Street, Harrogate
“After months of trading our Foodhall, it’s been fantastic to welcome customers back to our full Clothing & Home offer.
"While we’ve kept a big focus on comfortable casualwear as customers spend more time at home, we’ve already seen some customers picking up smarter clothes for returning to work.
“Following the reopening of Clothing & Home last Monday, we’ve dedicated more space to kidswear – as we know that there is demand due to children wearing their uniform less and of course, they’ve been growing over the last few months too!
“We’re expecting our customers to return gradually and we’re focusing on making sure they can shop with confidence.
"I’m really proud of my store team who have been working tirelessly to make sure we have all our measures in place so customers can shop our brilliant product range with the space needed and the service they expect.”
Imagined Things book store, Westminster Arcade, Harrogate
Managing director Georgia Duffy said: “It was amazing to see people come out to shop with us, including some familiar faces I was delighted to see.
“But the shop was very quiet on the opening Monday, footfall-wise.
“People weren’t staying as long and were largely coming to shop alone, though nearly everyone that came bought something, which was brilliant!
“It’s just very different than before. Everyone was polite and happy to put on hand sanitiser and wait for their turn.”
Jespers fine stationary, writing and gift shop, Oxford Street, Harrogate
Lynn Cummings, retail manageress, said: “I am pleased to say the first week has been great with the shops reopening in town.
“It has been wonderful to catch up with our regular customers many of whom popped in to see how the team were.
“It was brilliant that the town was buzzing with people again whilst adhering to the social distancing measures that retailers have in place.
“It is great at last to get back to some form of normality.”
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