Burnley traders rejoice as end of lockdown ensures some Christmas cheer for shops
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Many of the town's shops, and all gyms, hairdressers and beauty parlours had been forced to close in the national lockdown, which comes to an end on Wednesday December 2nd, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicating that non-essential businesses can reopen in time for the crucial Christmas shopping period.
The news was welcomed by the Burnley and District Chamber of Trade president Brian Hobbs who described 2020 as "a very hard year" for Burnley traders and business owners, and by Andrew Dean from Burnley BID, a group of private sector Burnley retailers aiming to improve the town centre.
However, the end of lockdown may not be the end of enforced closed doors for some businesses, as pubs and restuarants may still have to remain shut should Burnley be placed back into the Tier 3 level of restrictions, as it was before the latest national lockdown.
Mr Hobbs said: "It is obviously good news that lockdown is coming to an end and so-called non-essential shops can reopen, especially in the run-up to Christmas. It's been a very hard year for traders, there's been no escaping the struggles.
"Personally, I don't feel there's been any logic to any of the Government's decisions. They seem to have stumbled from one crisis to the other without any real strategic planning. I think an unnecessary fear has been bred into people now, and that will take some time to disappear before we see more people confident enough to go out and shop.
"Quite a lot of traders I've spoken to feel the restrictions have been unnecessary and could have been better managed. However, we are where we are and I hope people can support our local shops now in this crucial time during the run-up to Christmas."
Mr Hobbs said he was unaware of any local businesses folding and believed that larger chains had been hit harder due to larger overheads.
He added: "Peacocks, for instance, which we had in Burnley, has been forced to close, but I've not heard of any smaller businesses. The knock-on effect for local traders however is a drop in footfall."
Burnley BID project manager Andrew Dean urged Burnley folk to support local businesses in the town in the crucial coming weeks.
He said: “This will be welcome news to our businesses that can open their doors again next month and comes at a crucial time.
“The festive season is the busiest part of the year for shops and it now gives them the opportunity to take advantage of the Christmas shopping period and make up for some of the lost sales throughout November.
“Many businesses have adapted brilliantly this year in order to reach customers through services such as Click & Collect and deliveries but physically being allowed to open will be a big boost.
“Of course the announcement isn’t just about the companies that can re-open though and we will be continuing to support those that may not be allowed to operate as normal when the tier system is established.
“Finally, I would urge everyone in Burnley to support local businesses where they can over the coming weeks whether that’s by visiting the high street, ordering online or getting takeaway food and drinks among other things.
“Your custom could really help make the difference in ensuring your favourite stores and businesses are here for the long run. Please check out our new Facebook group all about shopping local in Burnley town centre for more details: https://www.facebook.com/groups/burnleytown/."
Burnley Council leader Coun. Mark Townsend said: “It’s great news that non-essential shops have got the green light to reopen.
"Many jobs are dependant on this vital sector and I really hope the people of Burnley will support it by shopping local whenever they can in the run up to Christmas and beyond. Shopping is a big part of the Christmas build up and this news will bring the buzz back to the town centre at just the right time.”