Non-essential shops, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality reopened their doors for the first time in months as Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed.
Celia Thomson-Hitchcock, chairman of The Littlehampton Traders Partnership and owner of Ahead to Toe, said: “It feels like we’ve never been away, it’s like riding a bike – you don’t forget. I do hope the recovery this time will be quicker as people seemed a lot more switched on. Overall, all of the traders I spoke to just said they were really, genuinely happy to be back.”
She reflected on a tough old year, but praised the ‘brilliant sense of community’ within Littlehampton’s independent retailers.
“It will be great to see familiar faces again,” added Celia. “And we are so looking forward to welcoming back our customers and friends. Despite retail challenges, we all need to remember to endorse the message of ‘stay safe, stay local and shop local’.”
Nigel Lynn, chief executive at Arun District Council, said he looked forward to going to the barbers, adding: “Our local retailers have endured a very anxious year and it’s crucial that we support them as they work hard to build their businesses back up.”
He stressed how important it was for everyone to continue to strictly follow the safety guidelines in order to keep everyone safe.
“We can’t afford to let the good work slip now as the easing of restrictions is dependent on data, not dates,” he added.
Over the past year, Arun has seen many of its treasured businesses struggle to survive so the district council is urging people to shop local to support our traders.
It has been working with partners such as Bognor Regis BID and Shop Littlehampton to help ensure our return to retail runs as smoothly as possible and our high streets and smaller shopping areas are Covid-secure and ready to welcome customers.
BID chairman Jason Passingham said: “As a retailer myself, I know how much we value the support our local community has shown to local businesses, and how happy we are to be welcoming back our customers in person.”
A spokesman for Arundel Town Council said: “Throughout the pandemic, our town council has cooperated closely with the Arundel Chamber of Commerce to keep Arundel safe. That will continue as we work through the gradual easing of restrictions because it is important that residents and visitors know that they can shop safely in Arundel. Creating that confidence will play an important part in the successful re-opening of our town centre, particularly in the bars, restaurants and cafés that make Arundel such a vibrant town.”
Meanwhile, shops in Rustington were delighted to reopen on Monday. Sarah Wickens, managing director of Rustington shopping centre landlords, Store Property Investments, said: “We have had a busy year supporting all our tenants and working with Rustington Chamber of Trade and Commerce and the parish council to ensure the centre is a safe and a welcoming place to work and shop.”
And Juna Home & Garden in Angmering said their first day of opening was a huge success.
“We had a constant flow of customers and the support was overwhelming,” said owners Justin and Nina.
“One gentleman came in and told us he was showing his support for his village and was going to go to every shop and buy something, what a truly wonderful person!”