Businesses give mixed reaction to North Gate’s opening

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Some traders around the Drapery area found the new North Gate station provided them with an unexpected boost.

Anita Stevens, store manager of the Cancer Research UK charity shops in the Drapery and Sheep Street, said she would have to consider taking on more volunteers to cope with increased demand.

She said: “The footfall has been much higher, definitely.

“We have noticed a real difference since Monday and it’s already a very busy set of shops any way.

“But we wanted to find out whether this is just going to happen for a week and then die off . We are assessing whether we will need more volunteers.”

But with the increased flow of bus traffic, the store manager said the shops had taken a hit in terms of donations.

“The people who would usually be dropping off donations can’t park outside anymore,” she said. “That’s what we feel will be the difficulty, our survival really depends on those donations.”

Owner of the My City Store, in Sheep Street, Imran Cheeman, is hoping his newsagents will benefit from the higher footfall in that area of town centre. Speaking on Monday, he said: “It’s been gridlocked today but we want it to be successful.

“They are going to have to do some alterations; they need to change the roads somehow to give more space for the buses.”

One shopping area which saw a noticeable impact was the Grosvenor Centre, which is attached to the old Greyfriars bus station.

According to some managers there, the long-term impact may depend on which end of the shopping centre the business is at.

Vinesh Patel, owner of Intercare optometrists, which is the nearest unit to the now-closed Greyfriars entrance, said he was already in talks with centre management to switch units. He said: “We have noticed a drop in passing trade this week, which we predicted.

“We are very much open for business and welcome customers here.

“However we want to move to the opposite end of the centre if possible.

“We have large numbers of regular customers, but you also need new ones, who we have always got from people passing by.”

Sainsbury’s also seemed to see a drop in footfall yesterday lunchtime, and had less than 30 customers in a five-minute period at about 1.30pm.

However, other businesses at the opposite end of the centre were more upbeat.

Nathan Blissett, manager of ShoeCare,near House of Fraser, said: “Trade has been down slightly, but it will just be a blip. People just need to get used to arriving at a new place in town. It’ll be back to normal in a week.”