Bognor’s back in business as high street shops prepare to reopen
High street businesses are set to open their doors for the first time in months next week, as lockdown restrictions lift across the country.
Business owners in Bognor Regis said they were excited to welcome customers old and new back to their shops, having done their best to make the experience as safe as possible.
Paul Wells, owner of Unique Knit and Sew on London Road, said: “We put in Covid measures last year as part of our re-opening package, so obviously those will still be in place.
“It’s been a long time shut, so obviously we’ll be delighted to be able to welcome back our customers. We’re looking forward to being able to trade again through the front door.”
Unique Knit and Sew has been running an online delivery service during the pandemic but Mr Wells makes clear there is still an appetite for face to face shopping.
“People still like to walk around, they still like to browse, to look at what they’re buying. Not everyone’s web based these days. They still like to look at what they’re buying.”
Justina Payne, owner of Tina’s Barber Shop, High Street, is similarly excited. She has run the salon since 1994, after leasing the property from businessman Mark Spindler and says she is “really looking forward to going back.”
“ To be honest, I think the first two or three weeks will be unbelievable and then it’ll go into a lull. But you never know. That’s the thing.”
Even so, there are concerns going forward. Ms Payne worries she will have to close again in a few months, that a third lockdown might be just around the corner. “It’s really scary,” she said. “I’m worried we’ll go back and everything will pile up and we’ll shut within a month. “
Even so, the mood on Bognor’s high street is optimistic, with business owners eagerly awaiting a return to normality.
Heather Allen, co-ordinator of Bognor Regis’ Business Improvement District, said: “Like everyone, we’re looking forward to the next stage of reopening and to seeing many more of our brilliant, resilient businesses operating from their premises again.”
“We’d like to encourage the community to keep on ‘shopping local’, supporting businesses and each other by keeping up the ‘hands, face, space and fresh air’ regime we’ve all grown accustomed to. “