PEOPLE are returning to Stratford town centre say council chiefs.
With lockdown easing and more shops opening, Stratford District Council points to evidence from its car parking figures. Last week there were just over 14,000 visitors, but that was still down 5,000 on the same week last year.
District operations spokesman Coun Ian Shenton said: “These figures are showing an improving picture, which is pleasing to see. Together with partners, we have tried to introduce a number of measures to make sure people have the confidence and feel safe to visit and on this evidence it shows these measures are working.
“Since May there has been a steady increase in visitor numbers when numbers were 48 per cent of the previous year to 74 per cent last week. Evidence from our car parking services are also showing that visitors are staying two per cent longer than last year, which could be down to the start of the school holidays and more people enjoying staycations this year.
“However, we should be mindful that the virus has not completely disappeared and that we must all work together by observing the safe distancing measures that will be implemented both inside and outside shops to keep us all safe.
“Although a sense of confidence is returning to our high street, the clear message is Stratford town centre is open and offers a great and varied experience for all residents and visitors alike – Visit Safe/Stay Safe.
“We urge people using the town and the facilities to act responsibly, to socially distance, to wear masks in shops and to dispose of their litter sensibly, all steps helping to keep the town safe and attractive.”
Tor Wilkes, marketing manager at Stratforward, was pleased to see more people in the town.
“Stratford is well and truly open with great summer vibes. Most businesses are open with many safety measures in place and more will be reopening early August.
“The new street furniture the elegant trees and planted containers look wonderful and lift the town. The banners on Bridge Street barriers also soften the street scene and this all helps to add to the vibrancy of the town.
“Restaurants and cafes are loving seeing their regulars back and settling into a new routine, though with less seats to allow for social distancing. Hairstylists are working long hours to fit in their clients as fast as possible to return their normal pizazz. Retail is continuing to gradually see an increase their takings, although they are significantly down and more shops are opening. Nearly all our hotels are open, and by offering low rack rates and booking cancellation flexibility, their occupancy levels are good especially at the weekend.
“We are moving in the right direction and footfall is growing each week.”