Spending soars as Shropshire shops reopen while next stage of lockdown easing 'could provide further boost'

Spending soared in parts of the county as non-essential shops reopened last week, new figures suggest.

Shoppers in Shrewsbury
Shoppers in Shrewsbury

But some shop owners say business has been steady after the initial rush, although are expecting a boost next month when pubs and cafes can reopen fully and seat customers indoors.

As coronavirus restrictions eased last week, many retailers were allowed to open their doors for the first time since early January.

The banking firm Revolut analysed the data of 4,000 of its customers in Telford and Wrekin between April 12 and 18, comparing it to the average weekly spend in February 2020, before lockdown started.

Telford and Wrekin shoppers spent 144 per cent more on average last week than normal, according to their data – with TK Maxx the most popular shop.

The first day of trading saw even higher levels of spending, with 296 per cent more splurged than the average Monday in February of last year.

Retail spending increased 92 per cent across England as a whole, the firm's figures show.

Revolut said the data shows there is strong demand right across the country, with many people eager to spend savings built up since non-essential shops closed on January 5.

Spokesman Nicholas Taylor said: "Importantly, spending was up across the whole week – rather than just the first day – suggesting that consumer confidence is resilient.

"This is great news for the thousands of local pubs, cafes and shops, and the millions of people they employ."

Elsewhere in the county, businesses say they had a busy start last week, but some have since noticed a drop in trade.

Belinda Griffiths, owner of Wyle Blue World, on Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury, said it was great to be back open and business last week had been brisk.

She said: "The first week was brilliant – really, really busy. This last week has been quieter.

"When we came out of the last lockdown the same thing happened, until the restaurants opened back up.

"When people come to a place like Shrewsbury they make a day of it. They go for lunch and coffee. We need the restaurants open.

"The town is very busy though because they have given free parking. There's a lovely atmosphere."

Businesses in Oswestry say trade has been steady in the town, although could be better.

Belinda Griffiths of Wyle Blue World, Shrewsbury

Mike Coppock, who owns Rowanthorn, said: "The first day was busy, but it's been quiet since then, although if you go onto the main road you see quite a few people around.

"I didn't know what to expect really. A lot of people are tentative about going out and mixing with people.

"Because the weather has been nice, a lot of people have been in their gardens. Trade has been okay but it's not been mad.

"I certainly believe with the car park being free a lot of it is being used by people who work in the town. "I don't think the free parking has increased footfall."

Brian Jones, who owns Paperwrite in Oswestry, added: "The town centre has been busy. People are finding that we are open, so it's increasing.

"It hasn't reached levels to what it was before lockdown but I'm sure it will do."

Lynne Morgan, manager of Oska Ludlow, said people had been happy to get back out shopping again.

She said: "We have been quite busy, last week especially with the initial excitement. This week has been a little bit quieter. "People are happy to get out and do normal things like shopping."

The British Retail Consortium said stores have worked hard to provide customers with a "safe and enjoyable" shopping experience, and it expects footfall to increase as more outlets reopen.

Chief executive Helen Dickinson added: “With case numbers continuing to drop, retailers hope that confidence will return to high streets, shopping centres and retail parks, and encourage UK consumers to release some of the £160 billion saved up during this pandemic."

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