Southsea traders reveal no 'stampede' of customers amid 'excitement' and 'nervousness' after reopening
TRADERS admitted they were ‘excited’ and ‘nervous’ about the big reopening of shops amid lockdown restrictions being eased.
But it was not the ‘stampede’ that many had encountered after the first lockdown was eased last summer.
This time it was more of a steady flow of customers revisiting their favourite local shops - showing their support following the biggest challenge many business owners have ever, and will ever, face.
Rick Steenhuis, owner of White Dog Gallery, off Palmerston Road in Southsea, said his art shop was still in good shape. ‘Everyone’s been very positive and we’ve had a slow burn of people coming in,’ he said.
‘There’s not been the stampede we had after the first lockdown when all hell broke loose.
‘We’ve been closed eight of the last 12 months but now we’re open we should be back in the same place we were before the pandemic hit.
‘We were up 30 to 40 per cent year on year before the pandemic but we hope we will be back with a vengeance.
‘We wouldn’t have survived without the government support though.’
Alison Barnes, owner of Sweet Cakes on Palmerston Road, said: ‘It’s good to see people out and it’s nice for some of them to be out again.
‘It’s been a difficult time especially after losing 46 weddings which we would have done cakes for but hopefully we’ve come out the other side. Others have not been so lucky. We are fortunate we have a strong community here.’
Customer Mollie Wearn, president of Southsea morning WI, said: ‘It’s been a long time since we have been able to meet at Sweet Cakes. We did miss coming here so it’s nice to finally be back.
‘It’s nice to support local businesses. Alison is very good to us.’
Meanwhile on Albert Road, in Southsea, business owners reported a steady first day back, albeit a strange one after so long.
‘I felt a bit anxious opening again after so long but it’s been good. We’ve had quite a few walk-ins and have been quite busy,’ Kerry Hutton, joint owner of Chilli Tattoo and The Beauty Hutt, said.
‘We are working through our backlog but it has been absolutely awful the last few months. Not knowing when we could open again was the hardest part when we still had bills to pay.
‘We don’t have as many students around here now which impacts us but hopefully we can stay open now and we can start getting some money back in.’
Fellow Albert Road trader Sue McCombie, who owns Southsea Model and Games, said: ‘We have seen people but it’s not been exceptional.
‘I’m happy to see people again but I was a bit nervous after nearly five months of lockdown.’
SEE ALSO: Updates as shops reopen
Meanwhile Nino Taycur, owner of bar and restaurant Farm Kitchen on Palmerston Road, said: ‘It’s gone well and everyone was very excited to be here. It’s been good to see so many people back here after such a long time.
‘I think with all our measures we are safer than supermarkets so I don’t see why they can’t let some people inside but hopefully that will happen in May anyway.’