Shoppers swarm Littlehampton as lockdown restrictions ease: ‘It feels great to be back’
Littlehampton was bustling with shoppers today for the first time in months as non-essential shops, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality reopened their doors.
And there was excitement all round in Littlehampton town centre. Despite the early freezing temperatures and flurry of snow, people headed out to do some long-awaited shopping – and by the afternoon, the sun was shining.
Kim Squires, acting manager at New Look in High Street, Littlehampton, said she was delighted to welcome customers again.
She added: “I’d been quite anxious about coming back, while being in lockdown you do worry about getting back into the swing of things, but it’s been absolutely fine, the first hour or so was manic compared to a normal Monday morning, which was good.”
Loz Charman, sales advisor, said: “It feels great to be back. It is so nice to see the regulars, they were in here straight away.
“It’s been busy already. Erin Mordue, of Balloonatics, kindly got us some balloons for our entrance at really short notice.”
Loz said the past few months had been a struggle and she had to get another job while New Look was shut.
But, she said she was feeling positive about the future: “It is so nice to get back to normal – I just hope there’s not another lockdown.”
Ana Andrade, owner of BadSaint Restaurant & Cocktail Bar in High Street, Littlehampton, only opened two weeks before the first lockdown, and described the past year as ‘devastating’.
“I ended up accepting it for what it was and made sure to find a way to stay open and we did, one year later and we are still here,” she added.
She said she and staff had been preparing to reopen for the past three weeks, which involved sorting out an amended food and cocktail menu.
Although there is limited space outside, Ana said she has already received bookings and was looking forward to the future when the inside of the restaurant and cocktail bar can reopen.
“I am hopeful as I do feel we are a good addition to the town,” she added.
Brannon Masters, shop manager at the RSPCA charity shop in High Street, Littlehampton, said the first day back had been ‘really positive’.
“Everyone is lovely, everyone is happy. We are really happy to be here, be part of the community, and to give people a bit of sunshine,” she said.
“We were worried that we wouldn’t have had anything to put out for spring and summer due to no clothes donations, but the preparation for opening day has been a blessing in disguise. We’ve been able to get everything right and it’s been nice to have time to regroup and streamline operations.”
Stephanie Bennett, a volunteer at the charity shop, said it was ‘absolutely brilliant’ to be back open again, adding: “Everyone is so happy which has led to such a lovely atmosphere. People have told us how much they missed us – and we missed them.”
The retired accountant said she had missed volunteering ‘for her sanity’.
“It is something to get up for in the morning - especially when you have worked all your life,” she said, adding that the charity shop was desperate for more volunteers.
Sukhi Singh, manager of Tia’s Brow Bar, said: “We are feeling very good about being open. We prepared for today by making sure to clean after each customer and to sanitise the seats.
“We’ve been very busy with appointments and we are just hoping that we don’t go back into another lockdown.”
Stuart Jones, owner of Jones & Co salon in High Street, Littlehampton, said it felt great to be back doing what he loves – making his clients look good on the outside and making them feel good on the inside.
He added that it had been ‘soul-destroying’ being closed for so long.
Denisa Vineer, owner of Little Hair Angels in High Street, Littlehampton, only opened her business in July, last year, describing the past few months as ‘hard’.
And opening today had been a long time coming, she said, adding: “It’s brilliant to see people and get them back to looking lovely. I’m hoping that this is the last lockdown we have, and then we can move forward, start living our lives and get back to normal again.”
Jeanette Asbury, manager of Peacocks in High Street, Littlehampton, said she was pleased to be back open following the news that Peacocks has been bought out of administration.
“It’s been very good, we’ve got brisk trade which is nice on our first opening day after the lockdown, we’ve had a lot of customers saying they are pleased to see us open again,” she added.
She told the Gazette it was a relief all staff have kept their jobs and the mood has been upbeat in store.
Geoff Northcott, 83, of Thatchway close, Littlehampton, was among shoppers in the town centre today and said it had been ‘absolutely incredible’ to see smiles on people’s faces again.
“I sadly lost my wife last year, so I’m on my own, but it’s been lovely to see the shops open again and the town centre busy,” he added
“It’s about time we get up and running again and get the economy going.”
Anne Lassiter, a retired special needs teacher, said she was impressed with all the staff who were ‘buzzing to be back’. But, she said, the public still needs to be careful when shopping.
“Shops have got obvious signs about how many people can enter, but people don’t notice them,” she added
“They are just so excited, which I understand, but I’m not going into a shop with too many people in there.”