Worthing town centre opened for business again today, as lockdown restrictions eased

Worthing town centre comes alive as shops reopen - in pictures

The weather outside may be frightful, but Worthing town centre was delightful today (April 12) as shoppers returned to the high street.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 2:20 pm
Updated Monday, 12th April 2021, 2:23 pm

The latest relaxation of social restrictions has seen non-essential stores reopen, along with hairdressers, hospitality businesses and gyms.

Ghodsi Young runs Ghodsi barber’s in Warwick Street and had a shop packed with people desperate to get their lockdown locks trimmed.

“We’re so excited to be back,” said Ghodsi.

“This job is about seeing people and communicating with people and we’ve really missed them all.

“But we’ve survived and we’re still here. Emotionally we are so happy because people have come in and want to know how we’ve been, how we’re getting on.”

Ghodsi had at least five barbers all working at once to deal with the influx of customers.

The baltic weather meant there was not a repeat of the huge queues seen in the last major reopening in June, but the town centre was still busy.

It was clear traders are now fully up to speed with Covid safety measures, with everything spaced out, sanitation stations wherever you turn and one-way systems in place.

In the Montague Quarter, Benedict Farr reopened the doors to his football memorabilia store Saturday 3pm.

Saturday 3pm typifies the allure of an independent store, with eye-catching displays and unique items that benefit from being seen in the flesh.

But the luxury nature of his wares left him unsure how emerging from lockdown would go.

“I was a bit apprehensive as you never really know how it’s going to go after you’ve been closed for a long period,” said Benedict.

“I wasn’t sure if people have money to spend after lockdown and, if they do, they might be more likely to spend it on things like clothes or eating out. We’re a bit more a of a specialist place.”

Benedict did not set up an online store during lockdown, as the time and resources it would take were unlikely to be worth it.

Football fans are more likely to be drawn to official club shops or big-hitters like Sports Direct online, he said, whereas somewhere like Saturday 3pm relies on its eye-catching displays and face-to-face experience.

Without the support of an online customer base, Benedict paid credit to Worthing Borough Council for its support and the speed at which Covid grants were administered.

He also benefitted from rent holidays and discounts from his landlord.

Worthing should use this restart to take support its independent traders, he said, and take advantage of vacancies left by chain stores.

Lower rent and business rates in Worthing also present an opportunity to lure business away from places like Brighton, he added.

“Now it’s about trying to do something different and offer something unique,” said Benedict.

“A lot of city centres all look the same now and a lot of the character seems to be going out. But look at places like York, Chester, Brighton – it’s the little independents that draw people in.

“I’m hoping with rents coming down and rate holidays, smaller independents will start looking at more central locations.”

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