Sunny day helps bring out shoppers in Portsmouth for first weekend since lockdown

A SUNNY day helped bring out shoppers in the city centre for the first weekend since the latest easing of lockdown restrictions.

By Steve Deeks
Saturday, 17th April 2021, 5:14 pm
Updated Saturday, 17th April 2021, 5:29 pm

Shoppers in Commercial Road spent some long overdue money in their favourite stores for the first time this year while retailers reported a ‘steady’ return.

People basked in the sun and caught up with friends and family after taking a well earned break from their pent up retail therapy.

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Michael Noor, owner of Blend Juice Bar in Cascades Shopping Centre, Portsmouth. Picture by Steve Deeks

Lorraine Connor, 49, of Hilsea, said she had ‘missed’ shopping. ‘It’s nice to get out again for the first time in a long while,’ she said.

‘The nice weather will bring people out. I’ve missed coming out and talking to people such as the sales staff.

‘I’ve browsed in a few shops, that’s part of the fun.’

Lorraine’s mum, Lillian, 78, added: ‘It’s lovely to be out. I’ve missed it, I’m a routine person.

Tom Houlsby, manager of Vapo in Cascades Shopping centre, Portsmouth. Picture by Steve Deeks.

‘I just got on with lockdown but I did feel it. The weather was awful too. You feel better when the sun is out.’

Gillian Mills, 70, of Fratton, admitted feeling uneasy at being out shopping for the first time in a year. ‘I feel a bit weird about it,’ she said.

‘I feel wary as there’s so many people about. It’s strange to see so many people after this time.

‘I haven’t gone into many shops, I just want to buy some puzzles and books.

Shoppers in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, on April 17. Picture by Steve Deeks.

‘It’s been a strange time. I couldn’t celebrate my birthday in February. But you have to think of all those who died.’

Michelle Taylor, 58, of Cosham, said: ‘I’ve been working all week so this is my first chance to go shopping. It’s been nice to see people out again.

‘It’s alright shopping online but it’s not the same, you can’t touch or try things on. I’ve missed it being stuck indoors.’

Meanwhile, shop owners said the reopening weekend had seen a decent return of customers.

Michelle Taylor, 58, of Cosham, in Commercial Road, Portsmouth on April 17. Picture by Steve Deeks.

Stephen Coombes, owner of American football styled shop Victory Sport, in Cascades, said: ‘It’s not been exceptional.

‘NFL (American football) plays a big part in our business and the season finished in January. I’m not complaining though as we are quite fortunate with our online sales, though it is very competitive.

‘The closing of stores means less footfall. It will also be interesting to see how shops cope later in the year when landlords want their money and there’s not the support available.’

Michael Noor, who owns Blend Juice Bar in Cascades, which only opened in December for the first time before lockdown, said: ‘It’s been steady and nice to see people out again. It’s been a difficult few months.

‘Things have been getting busier so hopefully that continues.’

Gillian Mills, 70, of Fratton, in Commercial Road, Fratton on April 17. Picture by Steve Deeks.

Tom Houlsby, manager of Vapo in Cascades, said: ‘It’s good to be open again, it’s been busy.

‘It’s the best reopening we’ve had, we’ve done quite well. Everyone has been raring to go.

‘It’s nice to have that purpose again.

‘People are more understanding of restrictions now but you still get some rude people who don’t want to wear a mask.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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