'The buzz is back': Hope for bumper first weekend back among Northampton shop owners after buoyant return
'Significant' increase in footfall expected to continue today and tomorrow as customers' confidence comes back
Shop owners in Northampton are hoping for a bumper first weekend back after being closed for around three months during the lockdown.
The atmosphere around town has been buoyant as customers have been steadily returning to stores since being allowed to reopen again on Monday (April 12).
But today (Saturday) and tomorrow will be the first chance many people will have to go shopping so traders hope the positivity continues.
Julie Teckman, who co-owns Vintage Guru on St Giles Street, said: "I think it's going to be a good weekend as a lot of people haven't been able to come out as they've been working so they will be able to enjoy going out again.
"It will be nice as well for people to come out to town and support local independents, Rushden Lakes is not so nice when it's really busy and there are plenty of shops in the town centre which will be open."
The first day back saw a 'significant' increase in footfall compared to a typical Monday and that trend continued throughout the week, according to Northampton Town Centre Business Improvement District (BID).
Operations manager Mark Mullen said it has been fantastic to see so many people in the town centre with a real appetite for shopping and outdoor hospitality on show.
"Our retailers and venues have loved seeing smiling faces coming back into the town and there has a been a real buzz in the air all week," he said.
“We know many people will be looking forward to getting out and about this weekend and we fully expect Saturday to be another busy shopping day, while those hospitality venues able to open outdoors have reported strong demand for tables.
"It’s shaping up to be a really exciting few days for the town and we would urge all visitors to follow the guidelines, respect social distancing measures and wear their masks to make sure it is an enjoyable and safe experience for all."
Rachel Roberts, who runs the five Mooch stores in Northamptonshire and Olney, said both her staff and customers have been happy to be back and hope that continues.
The gift shop group owner feels like there is much less pressure on traders this time around compared to the two previous post-lockdown reopenings last year.
"There's an element of calmness about it that there wasn't in December as that was quite frenzied for the whole month," she said.
"This feels like, 'it's okay, everywhere is open again, this is good and lockdown has passed,' so it's much calmer than before."
Three months of lockdown will naturally affect people's shopping habits, something Patrick Leonard from Montague Jeffery menswear on St Giles Street has noticed.
The personal tailoring manager said customers have had long shopping lists with many changing sizes or switching to more casualwear with working from home.
"It's been very steady and very buoyant, I'm pleased about that and we're finding that there's a lot of pent up shopping - that's how I would describe it," he said.
"As chaps have been buying online but they miss the ability to talk to somebody and have that human involvement and not have to faff around with returns."
Shopping centres are also expecting more visitors over the weekend and Weston Favell's is no exception, which has seen a steady return of customers this week.
Manager Kevin Legg said: “The Weston Favell buzz is back and our retailers are more than ready to welcome customers back who may not have been out and about for some time.
"Given our mix of local independent and well known high street retailers all providing convenience and value for money I am sure that as customers confidence builds we will see visits increase in line with where we were pre-Covid."