Can Bourne business bounce back as high street awaits post-lockdown reopening
Optimism tinged with caution is the feeling as town centre shops and businesses prepare for their latest release from lockdown.
Last week the country marked the anniversary of the first national lockdown, and as restrictions ease, the future of national and local business on our high streets remains an unknown quantity.
Paul Ross, chairman of Bourne in Business, praised InvestSk for helping prevent a potential catastrophe.
The South Kesteven District Council-owned economic growth and regeneration company has handed out more than £38m in Government grants across the district.
He believes optimism is now key, with shops, pubs and restaurants gradually set to reopen.
“The whole thing has been a disaster for retail trade, but you can only look at positives for the future that things are going to turn around.
“I am a financial advisor and all the advice I’m getting is that things are looking good and people are willing to spend again.
“Normally people save around five per cent of their income, but during the Covid situation they have been saving at 15 to 20 per cent. So people will have a lot more money to spend which hopefully they will spend on the retail trade.”
He added: “The main thing about retail is that you can’t stand still, you have to diversify into something different.
“Online shopping will be okay for some, but a disaster for others because of the power that companies like Amazon have over the market.”
Closures were inevitable over the last 12 months, with national chains M&Co and Clinton among those to go in Bourne,along with the Age UK shop and independent furniture outlet, A Little Something Fabulous.
But the town has also seen new businesses open, and existing ones upscale.
“I hope people will start looking more locally,” added Mr Ross.
“We have a good variety of shops and there have been brave souls who have set up in business during this time.”
Kit Longstaff, partner in Longstaff estate agents believes it is too early to gauge the situation or make bold forecasts for the future.
“While many high street businesses have had the benefit of business rate reliefs and furlough support schemes, which have been absolutely vital, very sadly some may not survive prolonged closure,” he said.
“For many high street businesses, survival will very much depend on how quickly the country is able to spring back to normality in the coming months.
“If restrictions are tightened once again there is a chance of more casualties for high street retailers.
“That said, if shoppers are less willing to travel to Stamford or Peterborough for example, particularly on public transport, they may choose to shop locally which will help to support the local businesses.
“It is very difficult to draw too many conclusions at the moment, but we all hope for the best.”