St Albans businesses praise street market initiative for saving them from ruin
- Credit: Archant
City centre businesses have praised the Inside-Out market initiative for saving them from ruin.
The impact of the coronavirus lockdown had a devastating impact on local retailers, as they were forced to close up shop and furlough staff.
Even though many strived to maintain an online presence, the lack of passing trade hit revenues hard, and many struggled to survive.
But with the easing of restrictions, St Albans BID (Business Improvement District) introduced Inside-Out, giving retailers the opportunity to trade outdoors with plenty of space for social distancing.
A new Friday market was also launched in High Street, which has been temporarily closed for traffic.
Owner of Waddington Road Coffee and Kitchen Mike Glanville said: “We bought this van to serve out of with the council grant we were given as a small business.
“It enabled us to trade while the café was closed.
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“Being out in High Street means we are doing really well. This has been a life-saver for us as the footfall reduced.”
Bridal shop and suit hire Ceremonia has consolidated to their High Street building as the BID initiative is bringing more footfall and helping them boost their sales.
Ceremonia owners Helen Searle and Andrew Masi said: “There are some great spaces to continue the market now that the road is pedestrianised due to the pandemic. The more businesses that survive, the better it will be for St Albans as a whole.”
Owner of Cositas Emma Bustamante said: “I love being able to bring my shop even closer to the centre.”
Anastasia Daniells of confectionary business Rock Pop Candy said: “It has a great feel to it, very upbeat, friendly and of course alfresco in its feel. I’ve had a positive response from customers who enjoy shopping for items while outdoors and it gives me the opportunity to catch up with regulars while still at a distance with PPE but in a relaxed spacious manner.
“As an ex-shop keeper, it allows me the opportunity to continue trading and keep my business afloat.”
Sameer Berry from Infuse Modern Indian Bistro added: “The market has received a good response and we have seen an increase in footfall as more and more locals come to know about the market. It creates a buzz and an excuse for people to come out of their houses and shop.
“The market helps us to get the restaurant’s name out there, which is great in these testing times.”
Keith Adsley from Eat Wholefoods added: “The pop-up market seems to be really popular with shoppers and the location for us on the High Street is great. Having it on a Friday is good timing for people working from home who want to pop out for a break.
“The market is helping to bring back customer confidence.
“We had a good mixture of regulars and some new faces as well as quite a lot of people from outside the city, from Potters Bar, Dunstable and Barnet.”
Inside-Out is a joint initiative between the district council and the BID, based on central government strategy for local economic recovery, and includes market traders.