'Thanks for backing us' say Preston businesses after a great week back from lockdown

Preston bounced back from lockdown in style in the first week of semi-normality, according to business leaders.

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 7:00 am

Shops, pubs and restaurants all reported brisk trade over the seven days up to yesterday, although overall footfall was still down seven per cent on the same pre-Covid week in April 2019.

Experts say the figures would almost certainly have been better had all hospitality venues in England been able to open - around three-quarters have remained shut due to lack of outdoor space.

But officials of the Preston Business Improvement District (BID), which represents around 800 city centre businesses, were still delighted with the turnout after more than three months of painful lockdown.

The sunny weather brought people out in their thousands.

“The first week back in business has been great,” said BID manager Mark Whittle. “People have overwhelmingly returned home to their high street safely.

“Overall trade has been buoyant with businesses reporting a positive week, definitely helped by the weather and people’s appetite to enjoy activities they’ve been unable to for some time.

“Availability has been limited, especially at weekends, at leisure venues which are able to open outdoors, clearly showing customers were keen to get enjoy some safer socialising.

“We’d like to thank returning customers for their support and loyalty and for venturing out responsibly, and of course the business community of the city centre for continually stepping up to do things right to protect their customers and staff. It’s been a real team effort.

Preston city centre was buzzing again with shoppers.

"We hope that the city centre continues to see a positive return to businesses, however, we are aware that there still may be some hesitancy from some customers to return just yet.

"It is clear that a great many people, especially office-based, continue to work from home, which certainly has an impact on footfall and trade.

"We’d hope that office-based employees are able to safely return to their premises soon.

"Footfall for reopening week saw a good number of people return, with the Monday in particular showing a marked increase on the same Monday for 2019, pre-pandemic.

"Across the week, our digital footfall reports show a decline of -7 per cent for the week of 12th April – 19th April, versus the same week in 2019."