People are feeling safe in town centres with extra precautions in place, and consumer confidence is building, according to business leaders in Shrewsbury. 

Footfall in Shrewsbury has consistently been higher than the national average, and shops are reporting better than expected sales, despite the coronavirus restrictions. 

Shrewsbury BID, which represents more than 500 town centre businesses, said that whilst footfall and sales figures were naturally lower than last year, many traders were optimistic about the coming months. 

Rachel Williams, Shrewsbury BID board director and store manager of Marks & Spencer, said customers felt safe in the town centre. 

“Safety remains at the forefront of everything we do and customers are telling us they feel safe and secure knowing that general hygiene processes are being stepped up and visible,” she said. 

“Consumer confidence is building and our footfall numbers have been growing each week, with customer numbers in our M&S Shrewsbury store slightly higher than the UK’s High Street average. 

“Our M&S Food business has remained stable as we have been supporting communities throughout the pandemic to ensure that people have the essentials they need, and of course our clothing businesses opened eight weeks ago to the delight of customers. 

“Customers say that they are adapting well to social distancing and wearing face masks in stores, and understand the importance of the measures for everyone’s safety. 

“People have told me that they are enjoying coming back into shops as they’ve missed shopping and the interactions they have with the staff.” 

Other national chains in the town centre have reported positive sales, with the chief executive of Hotel Chocolat recently naming Shrewsbury as one of its best-performing stores. 

In an interview on BBC Radio 4, Angus Thirwell, said: “Places like Shrewsbury, Hitchen, Truro, Chichester, places like that are doing really well. The places that are tougher are city centres, transit and tourist-based locations.” 

Kevin Lockwood, manager of the Shrewsbury Shopping Centres and board director of Shrewsbury BID, added: “It was interesting to hear Hotel Chocolat highlighting Shrewsbury as a store which is doing well, and this is in line with our footfall figures which show we are faring better than many other towns and cities. 

“Clearly these remain extremely challenging times, but it is encouraging to hear the safety procedures are helping people to feel safe and the majority of stores are reporting steady sales figures. 

“The concept of shopping locally and supporting your town has never been more important, and it seems that the people of Shrewsbury are very much embracing that, which is great to see.”