More than 27,000 people visit Commercial Road in Portsmouth on Monday

CITY businesses saw a boom as they were welcomed back with thousands more customers than usual on Monday - but the Portsmouth bosses have reminded people to stick to Covid rules.

By Fiona Callingham and Tom Cotterill
Friday, 16th April 2021, 1:49 pm

Data gathered from the centre of Portsmouth on April 12 as lockdown restrictions eased showed 27,350 people visited Commercial Road in just one day.

This was a whopping 740 per cent rise from the relative Monday in 2020 - although that was Easter Monday during the first lockdown.

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Pictured: GV of Commercial Road, Portsmouth on 12 April 2021 Picture: Habibur Rahman

It was still a significant increase on the same time two years previously with 20,100 Commercial Road visitors recorded on Monday, April 15, 2019 and 20,950 people on Monday, April 8, 2019.

As reported, queues were seen building outside various city stores from Monday morning - including outside Primark where around 600 patient shoppers were seen.

And a spokeswoman for Portsmouth City Council said the clothes store reported its ‘busiest trading day ever’.

To ensure the safety of the public, measures were put in place by the authority in advance.

The queue for Debenhams in Fareham Shopping Centre, which is reopened on Monday and will close down for good in May Picture: Kimberley Barber

Kim Pellett, deputy economic growth manager at the council, said: ‘Thank you to local businesses and customers for working so hard to make sure reopening happened safely and ensuring there was sensible queueing and social distancing at all times.

'Our official marshals were on hand to help make sure the day went smoothly, and we also put up new signs to remind everyone to queue responsibly, without blocking doorways, and to wear a face covering in Cascades and inside shops.

'Most importantly we reminded everyone in the our shopping areas to be kind to each other.’

Pictured: Melanie Smith and her daughter, Liz McCloud of Marebella Boutique, Commercial Road, Portsmouth on 12 April 2021 Picture: Habibur Rahman

Council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said it was 'great' to see people returning to shops and restaurants but urged residents not to get complacent.

'At the end of the day this is still about keeping people safe,' he said.

'We all know the rules. Even if you have been vaccinated you still need to keep a safe distance from people, you still need to wear a mask and wash your hands regularly.

'The virus is still out there and it is still killing people.'

Pictured: Amanda Norris of Sparkles Cascades, Commercial Road, Portsmouth on 12 April 2021 Picture: Habibur Rahman

Helen Atkinson, Portsmouth's director of public health, added: 'Although it's positive news that infection rates in Portsmouth are continuing to decrease, and the number of people getting vaccinated is rising, we still have a responsibility to play our part in preventing the virus spreading further.

'As we move into this next stage, it is vital that people continue to follow the hands, face, space guidance, take part in regular testing, get vaccinated when it's their turn and not mix with other households indoors.

'People in Portsmouth have stuck to the rules so far, and their actions have made a difference - and I'm urging everyone to continue that fantastic effort.'

Businesses can get in touch with the council's helpline on 023 9284 1641 or email [email protected] for support staying Covid safe.

The council's footfall counters measure in and out data from outside Primark in Commercial Road and just opposite.

Gunwharf Quays said it could not release footfall data.

Whiteley Shopping Centre said it had been ‘encouraging’ but would not release figures. Whiteley centre director Mia Gordon said: ‘This week has been a huge milestone for us and our retailers as we welcomed our customers back to enjoy shopping and outdoor dining.

‘Throughout the past year, the team at Whiteley have worked incredibly hard to implement safety measures to ensure that when people return, they can do so with confidence.

‘We’ve been really pleased with how well our customers have responded to these extra measures and would like to thank them for shopping safely with us.’

Mike Taylor, centre manager at Fareham Shopping Centre, said: 'Centre staff and tenants have worked hard behind the scenes to continue to ensure a safe shopping environment, welcoming customers back following the reopening of non-essential retail on April 12.

‘We have seen good steady footfall over the past few days which we have been really pleased with. It is fantastic to see so many visiting following the restrictions being lifted and hope this continues.

‘Footfall is still generally lower than pre-Covid levels however trends appear to indicate that those who are visiting are spending.'

He added: ‘There is still a way to go regarding the roadmap out of the pandemic with some restrictions still in place.

‘We look forward to the reopening of internal seating areas for tenants offering food and beverage for customers in May, to be able to socialise with family and friends in an internal setting.

‘We hope customers continue to rebuild their confidence in visiting the shopping centre after the effects of the pandemic.

‘We encourage everyone to continue to support your local businesses and we remain positive about the future despite the challenges seen nationally.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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